ask the readers: bad behavior from job candidates

We hear about plenty of bad behavior from job seekers here — from the candidate who sent a cake and a framed photo of himself to the hiring manager (?!), to the person who was intentionally late to interviews as a “strategy,” to the guy who advertised his job-hunting spouse on a billboard, and so many more.

Now it’s time to expand our list. What’s the worst or weirdest behavior you’ve ever seen from a job candidate?  (There’s a whole category in the archives for bad behavior from interviewers, so this is not one-sided.)

Share in the comments, and leave no detail out.

{ 1,533 comments… read them below }

  1. Apparatchic*

    One candidate arrived a full HOUR ahead of time, so I had to send her to a nearby coffee shop. Once in the interview, she explained her cross-cultural relationship strategy as “perfecting my bitch-face”… not great in any circumstance, but definitely not great at our small faith-based NGO.

    1. ZSD*

      Wait, she wanted to look more bitchy, or she wanted to *correct* her bitch-face so she looked more friendly? And either way…I wish I could read her mind to understand what this has to do with cross-cultural relationships.

      1. Apparatchic*

        Noooo, her strategy for working with people in other countries was to HAVE a bitch-face. As in… that was how she dealt with possible positionality issues, intercultural conflicts, etc. Bitch-face. We still joke about it in our team because that is probably the WORST way to develop relationships with international partners!

        (I forgot to mention that our elderly ED was in this meeting.)

        1. EmmaLou*

          Darn, I was hoping that her meaning was that she thought “cross-cultural” had to do with crabby people :D. You know, because they are all cross… and she’d thought that all her life when she heard the term.

    2. some1*

      This happened when I was a receptionist 14 years ago; except the candidate refused to go get coffee. We weren’t really set up to have any visitors wait more than a few minutes so it was inconvenient for me.

      1. Apparatchic*

        One of the interviewers was literally at lunch so we actually couldn’t get started! But either way, SO inconvenient, right?

      2. Fog*

        Oh man, that’s giving me horrifying receptionist flashbacks. People who arrive way inappropriately early and sit in the too-small lobby right in front of you, and take up the next half hour -hour of your time with inane small talk or questioning. Go sit in your car and play games on your phone!

        1. Anna*

          Side note very late: I recently went to an interview and got there about 1o minutes early (like you do). Their lobby area was in the middle of an open floor plan so I got to sit there awkwardly staring at everyone working while I waited to start my interview.

    3. SJ*

      I had an interview this morning, and though I’d been to the building (at a university) twice before, they were both during off-times — never during rush hour. So I left myself even more extra time just in case and got there 45 minutes early. Security at the main desk asked when my appointment was and then said, “Oh, you should just go up to their wing now and show them that you’re SO punctual that you’re early!” Ah, no thanks, sir, I’m just gonna be seated in that waiting area over there until a more appropriate time…

      1. Apparatchic*

        I’m ALWAYS super-early for interviews – which is why I always research coffee shops in the area so that I can grab some tea and calm down before walking over for my usual 3-5 minutes early. I appreciate her effort (ish), but it showed a lack of judgement that was confirmed in her interview.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Same – I give myself tons of time to do last minute prep etc but I am also prepared to wait in my car or find a coffeeshop nearby. I’d never skulk in a lobby for an hour.

        2. SJ*

          Definitely! Before my first interview I figured there’d be a number of big waiting areas on the main floor (it’s a giant university business building), so I was prepared to hunker down in a corner on the main floor before heading up to the 4th floor at a reasonable time, but if there weren’t any I was going to skedaddle and find a coffee shop. I work at a university now and it’s so awkward when someone who has a meeting or interview shows up 25 minutes early and they insist on hanging out in the lobby instead of going across the walk to the student union building.

          1. TrainerGirl*

            Yes, it’s bad enough waiting when your interviewer doesn’t show up on time. I definitely wouldn’t show up an hour early.

        3. INTP*

          Yeah, it comes across as very presumptuous if you’re more than 5-10 minutes early imo. It comes across like “Showing off how punctual I am is more important than not inconveniencing people.”

          (Barring exceptional circumstances, like if there are literally no places to stand around for awhile indoors before going into the office proper and it’s freezing/raining/unsafe outside.)

          1. Apparatchic*

            As an obsessively early person, I actually have come to realize that being early is NOT being punctual! Part of good time management is really realizing that arriving on time means not inconveniencing anyone or expecting anyone to change their schedule for you.

            (Agreed on all the exceptional circumstances listed – if there had been a blizzard or no coffee shop in the next building, it would be totally different.)

            1. Boss Cat Meme*

              I was on my way to an interview once in a cab, and I had with me a small glass aquarium. I had to do a live presentation to the board of an educational program that I had designed for children. I left really early because I knew traffic would be really bad that time of day. I was a few blocks from the place and the cab driver (with me in the cab) was slammed in the intersection! My aquarium had a big crack in it and probably would no longer hold water, I had a big cut on my knee that torn my nylons and left bloodstains on them, and I was a complete nervous wreck! I got to the place and found a restroom in the lobby and cleaned myself all up, and I threw away the nylons and tried to calm myself down. When I was cool, I went to the organization and told the receptionist that I was so sorry I was late, but this is what happened, and I would like to reschedule the interview if they would allow it. The receptionist left and came back with the woman I supposed to meet who said, “You’re not late, you’re right on time!” She said she explained to the board what happened, and if I could possibly present that day, would I consider doing so? So I did, thinking I had no chance at that point. I got a big round of applause when I finished, and I got the job! ALWAYS be extra early is my motto, but when I am, I will make myself scarce outside somewhere until it’s time for the interview.

              1. stevenz*

                There’s a best-worst story if I ever heard one. Congratulations! But how were the fish?

          2. Library Director*

            My rule of thumb is give myself plenty of time, but to present myself about 15 minutes early. If I need to ask for restroom this gives me a chance to “freshen up”, check my teeth for spinach, etc. Of course I always bring appropriate reading material. “Library Research Skills For Teapot Makers” rather than my gory murder mystery.

        1. LadyLatteMotif*

          “Bitch-face” is the kind of buzzwordy youth slang that Buzzfeed would make a lot of use of, right up there with “on fleek.”

          1. Saturn9*

            You’re not kidding. #7 on Buzzfeed’s list of 10 Ways To Slay Your Dream Job is “Make sure your bitch-face is on fleek.”

    4. The lazy b (with spaces today for no particular reason)*

      Years ago I had an interview. I arrived really as I always do only to find out there was no cafe or anything nearby to wait in. I waited outside for a while (I didn’t have a car back then) but it was freezing and extremely windy so I went inside and said basically I know I’m super early but can I just sit in reception till you’re ready? They said fine. I went through my papers and waited. I got the job.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        My story is somewhat similar. I took transit to an interview, arrived 50 min early, and discovered that there were no coffee shop type places nearby. The weather was bad, so I walked back in and talked to the receptionist. I let the receptionist know that I knew I was very early for my interview at X time. After a very short period sitting, the interviewer came to get me. The interview started, and it soon became clear that there was a mixup. The interviewer thought that I was a different late (no show) candidate ! Despite this confusion, I was offered the job.

        1. Apparatchic*

          I think these situations are different – first of all, the weather was bad, and secondly there was nothing nearby! It’s not ideal, but it’s not as egregious as just… showing up super early with no exacerbating factors.

    5. INTP*

      I had a candidate arrive 2 hours ahead of time. The receptionist just told him to take a seat in the lobby…where he proceeded to have a nap. The lobby is between the C-suite offices and the middle management and meeting room areas, so all the execs saw him. I had just started as a junior recruiter and vouched for him after a short phone interview so it was a hit to my credibility for sure.

      In this case it was pretty presumptuous because there were plenty of places for him to wait. There were a variety of little quick service restaurants (including Subway which is very cheap), and there was free seating outside (San Diego – outdoor seating is tolerable like 300 days/year) as well as a lobby for the building in general before coming to our floor.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Out of curiosity was it a sitting up, just nodded off type of nap? Or did he literally stretch out on a couch/across several chairs with his jacket as a pillow?

          1. Pineapple Incident*

            Still an unfortunate but egregious offense in interviewing. Under no circumstances should people in that scenario ever see you sleeping.

            1. Cath in Canada*

              A friend of mine once fell asleep on her interviewer’s shoulder during a research seminar that took place in the middle of an all-day interview. She’d taken an overnight train to the interview and hadn’t slept at all, and she was sitting in a comfy chair in a dark room, right after lunch. She got the job! But this was in academia.

            2. Afiendishthingy*

              Oh, absolutely- I was just extra amused by my mental picture of the guy kicking his shoes off and lying across multiple chairs!

    6. Elisabeth*

      I still cringe when I think about an interview from a number of years ago. I was about 45 minutes early, in order to give myself lots of commuting time and time to find the building, so I went to a nearby coffee shop to review/prepare/wait it out. Arrived at the interview about 5 minutes before my time, only to realize this place had two office locations and I was in the wrong one. It killed me that I was theoretically “early” but ended up being late after getting in a cab and racing across town.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        I’ve done that too. And the thing is, I looked the guy up on their website and they said he was in office location A. When I got there, the receptionist was like, no, everyone knows he’s in B. Which he was, with a very lived-in office and everything. I did not get that job.

        1. Elisabeth*

          Glad to see I am not alone! I also did not get the job. Also went by the address listed on the website. Oy.

          1. anony*

            Oh, that must have been stressful. But the HR / hiring director didn’t provide the address to interview at?

        2. Afiendishthingy*

          Who the heck is “everybody”? How were you supposed to know?

          Meanwhile we FREQUENTLY have people show up for interviews but have NO IDEA who called them for the interview, and the poor receptionist ends up wandering around asking if anyone has an interview scheduled.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I was applying for a job with the police in their IT department. I was about 10 minutes early, introduced myself at the desk, and was told to wait for interviewer. So I waited…

            A few minutes past interview start time, I asked at desk if they knew when they’d be here, and was told they’d been informed I had arrived, and would be down shortly.

            So I waited…

            The third time I went up to the desk to ask, there was someone else who had just popped in as well, who interrupted with “Oh, you want to talk to X? He’s at the other (minor) station.”

            Call to explain and taxi ride later, they do still see me… 40 minutes late.

            I did get offered the job though, so not all bad!

            1. CanadianKat*

              A decent workplace would tell you exactly where to go, especially when they have more than one location. They would also give you clear directions like: “Take the elevator to the 21st floor, and ask reception for Hugh Smith.” If not, they should instruct the receptionist that Charlie Candidate is expected at 3pm and she is to call Sally in HR.

      2. Carrie*

        I had an interview once at a company with 2-3 offices in the same 5 miles or so. It was entirely on me that I didn’t ask the interviewer specifically where the interview would be conducted, but she never specified which office it was either, just assumed I knew I guess. I ended up calling my friend who worked for them and asking him where his interview was and went with that location. I did end up being a few minutes late but the interviewer showed up after I did…so she never knew. Now I always specify the address of where we’re meeting! (I didn’t end up getting the job, but after seeing my friend’s experience working there, I’m glad).

    7. Janice in Accounting*

      Ha! My husband is a pastor and I’m going to tell him the next time he interviews for a job to be sure and talking about his bitch-face! :P

    8. Alison*

      We once had someone show up 3-4 HOURS before their scheduled interview. The interview was supposed to be at like 1 or 2 PM, and they were there before I got in at 10. Did not get hired.

      1. Joseph*

        I don’t understand how that’s even possible.

        I can see how maybe you might show up an hour early – You’re wanted to be a bit early to give yourself plenty of time for traffic, but the roads were super clear.

        But this is extreme – Even in the cities famous for their traffic (LA, Atlanta, etc), it doesn’t take anywhere close to 3 hours to get places. Like did he specifically plan to arrive super early as some weird sign of how he’s SUPER-DEDICATED or something?

        1. Carrie*

          Oh, sometimes it can in LA. I’ve spent 3 hrs on the road to go 30 miles. :( *insert more crying emoticons* usually because of an accident since “normal” traffic is more like an extra 45 mins or so.

          Fortunately I never had to go for job interviews in LA or OC, but if I had, I’d have left insanely early and researched ahead of time to find a coffee shop or library or something nearby, preferably 5-10 mins away, and spent the time there instead. I would definitely not show up at 10am for a 2pm interview. That’s insane.

        2. CanadianKat*

          It can if you’re coming from out of town by public transit. I once had an interview in a town 2 hours away. It was scheduled for 10am, and the only bus I could take was at 7:30, arriving 9:30. If the interview had been at 1pm, I would have taken the same bus. But haning around in the lobby – no. Would have found a public library, coffee shop, or at worst, the bus depot.

          As it happened, there was a huge snow storm and the bus was one hour late. I called them, explained to the receptionist, and they were able to reschedule my interview for 10:30, which was pretty amazing, considering it was a 4-person panel of senior partners. I got the job.

      2. Library Director*

        We had that happen and the person wanted to know why we couldn’t interview her right then. We had a cancellation and was able to move up her shortened interview.

        1. Chalupa Batman*

          I work with college students, and this is exactly why I generally refuse to see students who come way before their scheduled appointment time. It’s not (always) that I *can’t*, but I want to set the norm of 5-10 minutes early as the precedent. People tend to think of early as a good thing, but there’s a limit. Every now and then a student has a good reason and approaches it as “I understand and can come back/reschedule if you’re not free, but if you are can I see you now?” and I move them up if I can, but as a rule, no, I’m busy right now. I see part of my job as enforcing these types of norms now, when it’s not going to be as big a deal as a job interview or similar event.

  2. AndersonDarling*

    I was supposed to be in a peer interview with a candidate, but our HR rep never called me to say they were ready. Two hours later, I asked what happened and the Hiring Manager said the candidate was wearing a transparent shirt. Not an “Ops, I didn’t know the light would do that” kind of shirt, but a clubbing/lingerie kind of see through shirt where you could see every detail of the applicant’s bra.
    The Hiring Manager and HR Rep agreed not to move forward with the peer interviewer.

    1. Michelenyc*

      Unfotunately, this happesn a lot in the fashion industry. While you can get away with wearing some interesting things. A transparent shirt would not go over well!

    2. stevenz*

      Maybe the bra was the most expensive article of clothing she had, and wanted to dress to impress.

    3. Leelee*

      The same thing happened to me too – a candidate came in wearing a see-through top with an electric orange, textured bra underneath (like one people wear on nights out when the bra is part of the outfit). I wish I didn’t know all the details of her underwear but it was quite literally staring me in the face.

      My industry is extremely competitive, old-fashioned and conservative and this was for a client facing role. For some reason that was my final straw (after a LOT of hilariously clueless new-grad interviews) and I persuaded my bosses to let me go around the local colleges giving talks and workshops on what not to do. In theory it’s to help the kids get work, but really it’s to help me keep my sanity when we’re recruiting.

      1. Mel*

        I’m glad it’s not just me who wants to go to local colleges and explain how getting a job works. My big pet peeve is resumes – if I could teach all the local students just one thing, it would be that employers can’t use their psychic powers to figure out which programming language you built a project in, you have to *tell* us. It’s so frustrating to see a short mention of a project that could be a great example of relevant experience and then absolutely no details.

    4. Journalist Wife*

      I once had to interview a candidate to be my new assistant (at a University, so she was a student) who showed up wearing a leather-and-leopard-print lace-up bustier. I could see every bit of what the Good Lord gave her pushed up and over the top, on display, on purpose. At 9:00 a.m. in an office building. When the affirmative action rep chased me down later to demand me why I did not hire the minority candidate, I explained that while her resume was okay (it was just okay), I had found someone with a better resume who came for her interview wearing actual clothes. That was not good enough. I was reprimanded because my answer to the AA rep’s question, “Why didn’t you just send her home to cover her breasts, and then interview her again?” was, “Because this job requires good judgement and I preferred to just pick someone with enough common sense to not need to be told to wear a shirt to an interview.” Seriously, I got in trouble over that response.

      1. Dirty Paws*

        People aren’t born with common sense. One reason, among many, for AA is to help even the playing field for those who didn’t grow up with the advantage of good role models.

  3. Act*

    We will never, ever forget Flip Flop Guy.

    He came in in flip flops, bermuda shorts, and a t-shirt, arrived late, and when we asked him why he’d been late, he told us he’d just come from a beach party. We’re also pretty sure he was stoned.

    We laugh about it to this day. According to LinkedIn, he’s still freelancing, which, shocker.

    1. The Optimizer*

      I know a guy that used to do this very thing on purpose so he could continue to collect unemployment.

      1. Adam V*

        Don’t unemployment offices ever call to confirm that these interviews actually happened?

        Conversely, should you feel guilty telling the unemployment office that they essentially blew off the interview by showing up stoned and in beach wear?

        1. Dan*

          And they would call, and confirm it happened ;)

          In my state, we are only required to make a “job contact”, but we do have to accept a reasonable job if offered.

        2. SophieChotek*

          Forgive my ignorance, but I thought there was a set limit for collecting unemployment? (i.e. eventually you won’t get it anymore).

          1. The Optimizer*

            Correct, but he was determined to milk it for all it was worth. The requirements at the time were just that he had to apply so he would show up in a tank top, cut-offs and flip-flops to fill out an application. This was for restaurant industry jobs, where that was the norm at the time.

          1. Vroom Vroom*

            I’ve been called before to confirm that a candidate interviewed for a position and was not offered it. I was like… why? And they said because the candidate was filing for unemployment.

          2. anony*

            Years ago, my husband was on unemployment in Canada and they randomly chose him and asked him to prove where he had looked for work. We filled in a full page of where he had applied (and we were surprised it was as much as it was! He had applied to more places than he thought he did.). Ever since then, every time I end up on unemployment (sadly), I take pains to create a spreadsheet to track where I’ve applied or networked just in case they ask, because they can and sometimes do ask. I think it’s usually random, unless someone put in an anonymous complaint.

            1. Evie*

              It can also be good to do for practical reasons – my BF is currently job hunting and got an email from a company he’d applied to over a month ago, and had written off as “they’ve gone with someone else”. Because he’s been applying for a variety of positions, in a variety of locations (read, cities!) and this one was a website based application (vs an email with cover letter and resume) type, he had to scrounge around to find the original job add to remind himself about the what and where (email from the company just mentioned lining up an interview – not where or for what job, not even if it was for an in person or phone interview!).

              1. Honeybee*

                Yeah, when I was job hunting I started a spreadsheet with the links to the original job ad. It helps if you get contacted later and need to find the ad, and it also helped me avoid applying to the same position more than once.

                1. penny*

                  But you should also copy the job description in case they remove the posting while still interviewing for the job.

              2. CanadianKat*

                I always do a spreadsheet. Also helps with prioritizing. I enter all potential jobs in, together with details (e.g. city, specialization, experience required, application deadline, etc.). Then when I start actually preparing applications, I start with the “best” jobs first – i.e. most relevant to my experience and needs, but keeping in mind the deadline. I also record responses received – i.e. whether they indicated they’d be conducting interviews in 2 weeks (then by week 3 or 4 I can write this off), whether they send a refusal, how far I get in the interview process.

                The spreadsheet contained links, but once I actually applied to a job, I would save the posting offline (as well as the exact copy of what I sent them).

                I also put in the spreadsheet which job sites / other sources to check regularly and when was the last time I checked, so that I don’t miss anything, but don’t have to go over week-old postings if I can see that I checked 3 days ago (though usually that’s daily for me).

        3. Liane*

          In my state, apparently companies report new hires to Workforce Department.
          When you’re on unemployment all you have to do is make 3 job contacts per week. And a contact per Workforce can be as little as a business telling you to go to their website to apply if you walk in and ask if they are hiring. I guess actually filling out the online app would be a second contact.
          Only after so many weeks do you actually have to keep a record of the contacts, so that you can show it if you are asked. Before that point, you just click Yes to the Did You Make 3 Contacts Last Week question when you log in to the site each week.

        4. Canadian Dot*

          I used to work in a retail store (Canada), and we had people come in and ask my manager to sign that they had applied for a job there. Without actually applying for a job. And they were SO put out when my manager would tell them that she’d be happy to sign, if they’d like to fill in an application, drop it off with a resume, and come to a group interview.

          1. Paquita*

            My husband worked at a fast food place years ago. Someone did that one day, the manager said we are hiring now, the guy said ‘I don’t want a job, you just need to sign my paper’. Manager said NO and the guy came over the counter going after the manager. Police were called and took the guy away.

            1. Chaordic One*

              When I was on unemployment and filed my claim every week, in addition to having to apply for only two jobs every week, I was asked if I had been offered and turned down any offers for employment.

              On the one hand, there certainly are lazy people who milk the system, but on the other hand the Department of Workforce Services is so preoccupied with unemployment applicants getting a job, any job, that they don’t give any thought to the actual job, what it pays, the benefits (if any) or if it is a good fit for the unemployed person. They encourage underemployment.

              I fibbed when answering the question, because I turned down a couple of job offers that were not good fits for me, but I denied it on the weekly unemployment claim form. This might not have worked if I had turned down an offer for a job that I applied for through the state Department of Workforce Services website and they had followed up about it. To cover my tracks, I applied for more than just two jobs every week. On my spreadsheet, I left off the jobs that made offers, but didn’t fit me very well. By holding out I took a risk that paid off for me and I was able to get a job that offered a better fit (and better pay and benefits).

              1. curious*

                That’s fraud. The government was GIVING you money. If you want to hold out for a better job, fine, but do it on your own dime. The taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for you to find a “better fit.”

                1. Rayner*

                  But there’s no point in taking a job that pays under the salary you need to survive. Like, if you’ve apllied for full time but they come hack and offer 2.5 days a week, that’s just not going to work even though the computer says you should accept it.

                2. Gina*

                  Each employee pays into the Unemployment Fund. As do the employers. So no the “government” wasn’t giving them anything. I am the payroll admin for my company so I know of what I speak.

                3. Annonymouse*

                  I’d argue it’s less fraudulent than the people in the above examples who asked to be signed off without actually applying.

                  Chaordic One is searching for employment above the bare minimum and looking to find a good job so they don’t have to go back to being on unemployment a year or less later because the pay is too low or the role doesn’t fit their skills.

              2. she was a fast machine*

                Hell, I have worked at a Workforce Office; WE are underemployed. Our ultimate goal is “to make people self-sufficient” but we don’t even make livable wages. So I feel you.

            2. ThatAspie*

              That is the kind of person whose stupidity and dishonesty makes the good people who really do need help look bad. Fortunately, their ilk is actually statistically rare. Unfortunately, the fact that fakers are rare does not seem to deter certain politicians from exaggerating the number of fraudsters and passing useless laws that only make it harder for nice people to get the help they need.

      2. Dan*

        I wanna move there. Virginia unemployment is the same across the state – about $375/week. In Northern Virginia, that pays the rent and nothing more (and that’s if you’re lucky). Whenever I’m on unemployment, I’m thankful the rent is getting paid, but I still have to eat you know. So, I bust my tail to get off of it.

        I wanna move somewhere where unemployment is worth milking.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know if there is such a place.

          Ours is based on a percentage of what you were making before (I think), so when I was on it from a lower-paying job, I had to have family help me to even eat. The last time, I got more because I made more–it was still not enough, but the amount of help I needed was much less. And lucky for me, I’d already taken steps to cut back on my expenses. Plus, I could take longer to find something decent rather than taking the first minimum wage thing someone shoved at me. Which would have put me right back on that help-me-eat income tier!

          1. Dan*

            Massachusetts pays $600/week. I’m wondering if Western MA (where things are cheaper) might just be that place… (you could have had a job in Boston where you’d max out the unemployment, and then move.)

            1. afiendishthingy*

              Oh my god, I got paid $400/week working full-time in Mass. In 2014! I lived out of state, though.

              1. afiendishthingy*

                Come to think of it that was my take-home pay, though. It was about $600 before taxes and insurance.

              1. Dan*

                I was laid off from a $70k job in NoVA, where we got the $375. If I understand you correctly, I would have maxed out the $600 in Mass? Yup, I’d rather have that than $375.

          2. Rachel*

            That’s how it works here in Illinois. It’s based on your average weekly wage (pre-tax) in your two highest-earning quarters in the previous year – you get 47% of that per week. (For example, if you made $450/week at your job, you would get $212/week on unemployment – also before taxes.) The maximum weekly amount you get is capped at $437/week. ($521/week if you have a nonworking spouse, $595/week if you have a dependent child/children).

        2. Lee*

          As someone who lives in southern central part of VA (suburb of Richmond), this is enough to live on monthly.
          In fact, the high cost of living in NOVA drove the DOL southern census region income numbers up significantly. I believe it’s because most people who work in D.C. live in Maryland or NOVA, and their high incomes drive up the cost of living and cost of land. I believe there’s additional states taxes in the Hampton Roads area as well.

          1. SouthernBelle*

            No, it’s not. Unless you live in a roommate environment with 0 expenses like credit card debt, utilities, etc. However, if you are a single person, with a mortgage, debt, the need to eat, etc., unemployment paid at $375 ($360 if you allow them to take taxes out of it before you receive it) is not enough. Source: Firsthand knowledge in the Hampton Roads area.

            1. Lee*

              Absolutely, it’s another world in NOVA and around the Hampton Roads area.

              The rest of Virginia…not so much.

              1. Honeybee*

                Rent must be super cheap outside of NoVA and Hampton Roads (the only two parts of VA I’m familiar with). That’s only $1,500 a month.

        3. Court*

          It’s not supposed to be worth milking. It’s supposed to provide for your absolute necessities while you get back on your feet.

          1. Vicki*

            I’ve been on unemployment It’s barely minimum wage, requires a lot of paperwork, and has a set end date.

        4. A grad student*

          I’m in SW Virginia, and that’s about what I make off my graduate stipend, so it might be worth milking if you moved down here!

    2. Florida*

      Years ago, I worked in the training/recruiting office of a timeshare resort. Someone came to an interview wearing a golf shirt with the logo of our main competitor! We probably would not have held the golf shirt against him. It was casual, but he looked neat. But why a golf shirt with the name of our main competitor? That’s like going to apply for a job at Coke while wearing a Pepsi shirt.
      This was a place that hired almost anyone with a pulse to work in the sales department. He didn’t get the job.

    3. KarenD*

      We’re a medium-sized company in a well-known resort location.We don’t have this as much any more (because there just aren’t that many openings any more, and we don’t do the kind of 2-3 day interview that used to be standard) but at one point, every time we advertised a position we’d see marked interest from people who were retired or had taken nice buyouts. Some of their resumes were impressive, to say the least – so impressive that we’d almost have to bring them in for an interview.

      And those interviews would go something like this: They’d walk in, look around with a distinctly unimpressed air, make comments like “Oh, you still use salt glaze on your teapots? How very quaint!” and offer our senior management some “friendly critiques” about how we could be oh, so much better. They’d answer our questions politely but vaguely and then drill down on what was really important: That golf course by my hotel. Is it public or private? What are the other good courses in the area? Do you have any designed by Famous Golf Course Designer Guy? How about other Famous Golf Course Designer Guy? How hard is it to get a decent tee time? Some of them actually booked tee times during the interview trip! (We didn’t really mind if they asked to come a day or two early or leave a day or two late, but they were scheduling golf while they were supposed to be interviewing.)

      Unfortunately for us, our high-echelon management was easily starstruck and any time they got wind of one of these “superstars,” we had to make an effort to reel them in. All we could do is place side bets on how soon in the conversation the G-word would come up.

      Then there was Boyfriend Woman. She wanted to move here because her boyfriend lived here. Fair enough. But on the first day of the interview, she asked what restaurant they planned to take her to (meals were a structured part of the interview process) and then called her boyfriend and told him where to meet us! This was, by the way, a mid-career professional, not someone fresh out of college and deficient of clues.

    4. Steve*

      I got a mere 8 page resume from a candidate. When it was time to do the coding part of the interview he turned what should have been a 6-line method into 50 lines or so. Coincidence, or just stupid?

    5. Vicki*

      A friend of mine once interviewed a candidate for a system admin job. The candidate showed up in bright yellow sweatpants and sweatshirt.

      He was not hired.

  4. Alston*

    I got a 17 page resume from someone. It had his education back through preschool and listed accomplishments/what he’d learned from it as well.

      1. Hermione*

        I’d love it if his advancement in color theory or tactile painting techniques were listed as growth-accomplishments through his later schooling.

      2. INTP*

        I’m wondering if it was a private or competitive preschool and he was really trying to convey “Hey, I have rich parents, hire me fellow snobs!”

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          My sister landed in a weird set of uni accommodation. At the first “get to know you” night, this group of posh-accented people rampaged through the room asking everyone “Did you PAY?”. My sister was all “WTF?”, but politely asked what they meant. “For your education, did you PAY?” Cue my sister and her flatmates cracking up at the idea of a 6 year old handing over her pocket money and such – and instant bonding, so you can still ask them, 15 years later, “Did you PAY?” and be guaranteed hilarity will ensue.

          1. Fog*

            Ah yes, I went to a private school where I had to hide the fact that I was a “scholarship kid” if I wanted to make friends. Glad your friend and her roommates got to bond over it.

      3. A*

        Reminds me of Frank Caliendo’s joke about muppets looking for jobs – Grover’s resume said he was an “expert in spatial relations,” which basically just meant he knew the difference between ‘near’ and ‘far.’

    1. Apparatchic*

      This made me laugh out loud. I really want to know what his key accomplishments were through middle school.

      1. addlady*

        “Learn how to hit on target gender through a variety of techniques including negging, sweet-talking, and deception. Eventually just settled on being straight-forward and cleaning up personal appearance and behaviors.”

    2. KE*

      Similar, except my candidate’s was only 4 pages, but still managed to include his middle school theater production credits and which roles he played.

      This position was in no way related to the arts, public speaking, or anything else where childhood theater participation could be considered remotely relevant.

      1. Artemesia*

        Hard to imagine what he could have been thinking. For a theater job, it would fit in a cover letter about one’s lifelong passion for theater I suppose. But anything else? While a new grad might reference work during HS — middle school? WTF.

    3. Dan*

      At my prior job (government contractor), we had someone from the South submit a 10-page resume… which included his work as a pastor at his church.

      We didn’t hire him.

      1. LawLady*

        So 10 pages is obviously problematic. But if he worked as a pastor, wouldn’t it be pretty normal to include that on a resume as work experience? There are lots of great transferrable skills from being in the clergy. (i.e. people skills, public speaking, discretion)

        1. KR*

          Seconding this – pastors work HARD. It requires a lot of interpersonal skills, volunteer coordination, research, historical knowledge.

          1. Dan*

            No argument there. The thing is, our primary (and sole) work was supporting a federal agency. This guy actually had 20 years of experience working for said federal agency, and that was what made us interested in him. So the pastoral work was completely incidental, and two pages of it was just… strange. (Ok, not strange in the context of a ten page resume, but when you’re interested in the 20 years of experience he had as his primary job, reading two pages about church is just weird.) If you *are* going to write two pages about a job with transferable skills, focus on the transferable skills, and de-focus the actual employment.

            I wasn’t privy to the hiring decisions, but when I looked at the 10 page monster, I was like “damn.” The church stuff, not focused on transferable skills, just added to it.

            1. Mickey Q*

              My dad put a 30-year career spread over 7 different countries on 1 page.
              I laugh every time I see someone with 5 years of experience or even 10 have to go to multiple pages.

            2. Snargulfuss*

              Well, I’ve heard federal recruiters often talk about how much more info you include on a federal-style resume as opposed to a traditional one. Perhaps because the organization is a government contractor he thought it want a federal-style resume.

        2. Dan*

          I get what you’re saying, and this is where it comes down to a resume being a marketing document. If he turned in a page or two with a bullet or two discussing his pastorial work, I don’t think I’d bat an eye — particularly if he focused on the transferable skills aspects.

          But 1) It was a ten page document, and 2) That means he had a couple of pages to explain how his pastorial skills are useful outside the clergy, and he didn’t do it.

          The whole package just came across as WTF. TBH, I have the same sentiment reading many stories here — the underlying motives seem OK, but it’s the delivery/what’s done about it that gets people shown the door. Take the one about the job that was paying at the below end of market range plus no benefits. The applicant more or less told the interviewer that the company was a bunch of cheap bastards and only cared about profit. You know what? She’s 100% right, but her delivery was just completely wrong. Same idea here.

      2. Miss Betty*

        Pastor is a legitimate job and a legitimate career path which, in most mainstream denominations, requires a college degree, often a masters degree. It also requires a gamut of skills, including writing, public speaking, counseling, management and supervision, even bookkeeping, accounting, and web skills if the church is small. (I know some denominations and independent churches allow people – usually men – to be ordained without any education, but they’re not they majority.)

        I can understand why you were put off by the 10 page resume, but are you seriously suggesting that someone leave a job off their resume just because it’s pastor? What if this is someone changing careers – do you expect them to show up with a blank resume? What if they’re a part-time pastor (same requirements as a full-time pastor) that needs a secular job to supplement her pastor income. That’s not uncommon for small church pastors. Do you really discount all their education, skills, and experience just because they’re a pastor? (And does it matter that they’re from the south? What if he’d been a nothern pastor?)

        1. Dan*

          See above, but the preaching job was a side thing. He had 20 years working for the federal agency that my company supported, and that was the interest we had in him.

          Since you asked… in the context of what my company did (government contracting), and his total background (includes 20 years of employment by the federal agency we supported), it was out of place to spend two pages on pastoral work. Am I suggesting he leave it off entirely? If he’s not going to focus on the transferable skills, yes. (Remember, you don’t have to put every job you’ve ever had on a resume.)

          His package would have read very differently if he limited his resume to 1-2 pages, limited discussion of his church work to two or three sentences, and discussed some of the transferable skills in his cover letter.

          The reality is, the position required 15 years of experience in his primary job. Without that, nothing else matters.

          1. Artemesia*

            I suspect since he was from the south, he thought this would help him because discrimination based on religion is a thing there. One of the topics of conversation we constantly were emerged in when we first settled in the south for my job was ‘where do you go to church’ or ‘you will feel more comfortable once you are churched.’ Church membership is a plus or even a requirement many places.

            1. Lefty*

              Absolutely agree that this could have been a contributor!

              As a former government contractor in a Southern state as well, I can recall MANY instances of someone asking what church I was going to join… and some clear distaste for my lack of an answer.

    4. Rincat*

      I got a resume like that once from a woman who had earned about 6 degrees (two Bachelors, 4 Masters) in very disparate things. She’d been employed as an admin assistant for a state government for about 30 years and I guess they funded all her school work. She put down not only every college class she ever attend (and it was a LOT), but also every conference and session she ever attended! Like “How to make greeting cards in Photoshop.”

      1. Edith*

        My goodness. Not even my employer who pays for me to go to conferences cares which sessions I go to.

    5. intldevt*

      Ohhhh god. Amazing. I once got a super, super long CV from someone that included CHAPTERS and extensive personal anecdotes. It’s like he had started off trying to write a memoir, given up, and then said “hmm, I could rework some of this for my CV.” I will never forget the chapter (entitled “my teenage years”) that began with “the death of my father affected me profoundly…”

      1. Snork Maiden*

        Oh man. You can’t just leave us hanging here, intldevt! How did he overcome his grief? Did he overcome his grief?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        We got one like that once at Exjob that was a handwritten document, with a photocopy of the guy’s driver’s license at the top. It rambled on for pages. We kept it for a while just because it was so bizarre. I called it “the manifesto resume.”

        1. Artemesia*

          We got one on a large postcard written in a spiral from the outside curving around in circles to the center — with a little extra on the front of the card. We got another with a velum cover sheet with scrolled border and a really ugly head shot with (X organizations new VP for Finance) under it. I mean we were not giving points for attractiveness in hiring the VP but why would you lead with a picture if you were goofy looking? I actually wondered if it were an experiment for a dissertation i.e. sent the same resume to 20 similar jobs, some with pictures of handsome man, some with black man, some with goofy guy, and some with a woman’s picture to see if this affected interview calls.

      3. OpheliaInWaders*

        I suspect we work in the same field…I once got a CV that not only included things like conferences and such, but also included the birth dates of children and the applicant’s blood type! (Said CV did not include pertinent things like actual dates of employment or descriptions of roles)

          1. SusanIvanova*

            Or waches too much anime? Anime/manga characters frequently show them because in Japan blood types are like astrology signs: they’re supposed to say something about your personality.

            1. Julia*

              My Japanese friends and colleagues are always astonished when I say I do not know my blood type. But since there are only 4 (and I guess negatives), does that mean there are only four personality types and everyone with the same one as me must have similar characteristics? At least zodiac signs have some variety.

              1. SusanIvanova*

                Wikipedia says yep, only 4: wiki Blood_type_personality_theory The history behind it is interesting, since it’s a very recent development.

    6. Jadelyn*

      WOW! That beats the 12-pager that’s holding my current record – it went back to his first job as a dishwasher in a monastery in the 70s.

      1. Marillenbaum*

        Not gonna lie, that sounds like it has the potential to be a very interesting backdrop for a novel.

      2. many bells down*

        There’s a political candidate on the local election ballot I just got that’s listed every job he ever held as “relelvant experience”. All the way back to “Costco cashier”.

        1. Janice in Accounting*

          To be honest, if more political candidates had at one point worked as Costco cashiers, they might be better plugged in to the needs of their constituents.

    7. 1023*

      I recently received a similar resume, however it also listed the accomplishments of his children (getting into top schools, competitive sports, etc.). I have no idea why he thought that was important to the role we are hiring for.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        “I have no idea why he thought that was important to the role we are hiring for.” <—- Mantra of everyone who reads resumes

        I got a 2-page resume from a recent grad, written in approximately 4 point font (ok, maybe 7 or 8), which included like 15 bullet points about a summer internship in a university experimental forest. Very technical biochemistry stuff that none of us knew anything about, because we are a human services agency.

        Also had somebody list all their firearms certifications. Yes, that will come in handy in this job working with 5-year-olds with autism!

        Another applicant's only job experience was as "Hawaiian Hula Dancer". That was the job title.

        1. EGdub*

          I work with college students, who often have limited experience and list funny things because, well, that’s all they have, but I have seen two undergrads list modeling experience on their resumes.

      2. Honeybee*

        A lot of modern parents of high-achieving kids subscribe to this model I like to call ‘managed childhood.’ They see themselves as essentially the executive producers of their children’s lives, helping them curate their extracurricular activities, volunteer activities, summer experiences, music lessons, dance lessons, sports leagues, standardized testing…it’s exhausting to listen to them talk about. (I moderate an online community filled with these kids and their parents, and I used to do SAT tutoring to – as you can imagine – wealthy parents who could afford the price tag and intended for their kids to go to elite schools. The parents do indeed talk about their children’s accomplishments as if they were a joint effort or a project managed or something like that.)

    8. B-Bam*

      I received a 9 page resume once as a follow up to a normal resume from the applicant because they felt we could handle the truth. Rather than list jobs, it was a very disturbing account of the person’s life through the lens of very serious mental health issues. I shredded it out of consideration to the person who was clearly having a crisis but some of it stuck in my head – mostly the bit where the person went off on how it was not them in that 1970s porn movie but their high school nemesis with the applicant’s face superimposed on it.

      1. Mookie*

        Wow. Just out of curiosity, where they old enough to have been in a 70s porn, or was time-travel involved?

    9. vpc*

      My CV is ten pages, one per year, but it’s federal-style, and even then it starts with my college education and my first post-college job, since those are the first elements relevant to my field. My resume fits on a page.

      I reviewed one recently where the person had noted every single performance bonus she ever received… and she hadn’t gotten one since 2010, after getting one every year for the previous ten or so. That caused us to probe a little deeper about performance in her current position during the interview, for sure! It came down to “that boss just doesn’t like me if I don’t meet deadlines or do quality work.” So we didn’t hire her, ’cause deadlines and quality are pretty important on our team.

      1. Artemesia*

        No senior academic worth his salt will have a CV shorter than 15 or 20 pages; it is an entirely different deal than a resume.

        1. SomeoneLikeAnon*

          I have several resumes. My federal is roughly 10 pages spanning a 12-year career. I have a 4-5 page high level one. Then I have a two-page one that I cherry pick from the high level and federal. I usually only turn in the two-page, unless asked for more detail.

    10. Library Director*

      Oh my. When I was a school librarian there was a period I was required to give grades. So, silly me, I made the learning real. When one of the pre-teen grades would blow off the in-library work I graded accordingly. I had parents who were horrified and argued that they would never get into a good college. I used to assure them that no college or job interviewer was going to ask what their grade in library was. I did point out that the assignment was using research materials answers and making flash cards for the annual teapot history test. So, by blowing off the work they were throwing away prime study time for the big test.

  5. Anon for this*

    – Calling and calling and calling and calling

    – Trying to use the fact that she went to the same church as a manager (they hadn’t met previously – big church)

    1. TheAssistant*

      How did she even know about the church?! Other than “do you go to House of God? I think I saw you last Sunday!” this screams creepy to me.

      1. Chinook*

        “How did she even know about the church?! ”

        Depends on how they participate. If anyone does readings, is in the choir or gives communion, people will know them on sight (even if they can’t place from where). On the flip side, from giving out communion, I also recognize church goers by their face even if we have never talked (only because we are required to watch them eat the host, so you actually do spend a moment looking at their face).

        I wouldn’t call it creepy, just weird and not how I would introduce myself unless I thought I knew them from somewhere but couldn’t place them.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            If this is a Catholic church, the host is considered a blessed object and you aren’t supposed to do anything weird with it. Like palm it and take it to your weekend Satanic ritual, for example. When the priest does the ritual that goes, “The body of Christ; the blood of Christ,” etc., Catholics believe that the host and wine actually change to the actual body and blood of Jesus. It’s called transubstantiation. Some churches put it on your tongue and some let you receive it in your hand. But you have to eat it right then–you can’t just walk off with it.

            When they started giving it in your hand and letting you feed it to yourself, I was always terrified I would drop mine and the priest would thunder,”YOU HAVE PROFANED THE HOLINESS OF THE EUCHARIST!” in front of the whole church.

            1. Chinook*

              What Elizabeth said. I have actually had no-catholics come up for communion and take the host and not consume it but just walk off, looking at it. We are worried, at worse, about it being stolen for satanic rituals and, at best, being left as a bookmark in a hymnal (which, for we believers, would be the equivalent of leaving Jesus between the pages). One guy, with dementia, walked away and had three different people stop him before he got back to his seat to make sure he knew he either had to consume it or give it back (to be consumed or left in water to disintegrate. When the latter doesn’t happen in the water, it is considered a miracle and has happened 3 in the last 500 years. Google Eucharistic miracle – Argentina for one example).

              Sometimes it is with the best of intentions that this happens. I saw a child split it in half to share with her non-Catholic friend. The priest later had to explain that while she had great intentions, it wasn’t something she should do. In our eyes, it is like giving a $100 bill to a 2 year old – all they see is a pretty piece of paper that everyone wants without understanding its true value.

              1. Amber T*

                Right before my uncle’s funeral mass began, an adult daughter of a friend of his and my aunt, who was Jewish, was asking a lot of questions, and while curiosity is good and its always positive to learn about other religions, you gotta consider the time and place (asking my mourning aunt why you have to stand/sit/kneel while she’s digging around for tissues = NOT GOOD).

                So it’s time in the mass to receive the host. I was in the front pew with my aunt so we had already returned to our seats before people in the back had received. This woman walks up to the priest, plucks it from his hands before he says anything, and starts walking away. It took the priest a second to realize what was happening before he chased her down. Now I have a horrible habit of laughing during funerals (a weird nervous tick? I have no idea what’s wrong with me), but it was hard not to chuckle. If this had happened not at a funeral, it would have been very difficult not to laugh out loud.

                1. Isabel*

                  Oh man, this made me remember one of my most embarrassing moments:

                  I was not raised going to church. When I was in high school, a classmate died in an accident. Her service was held in a Catholic church. The friend sitting next to me had been very close to the girl who died and sobbed, quietly but inconsolably, throughout the service. She was Catholic. When it came time for the Eucharist, she pulled me up and clung to my arm, dragging me up the aisle as I whispered my protests. I didn’t want to manually peel her off my arm as she cried! So there I was, in line and then in front of the priest, with absolutely no idea what to do. He held the wafer to me and looked into my eyes. I wanted to disappear. So… I took it in my hand, mumbled thank you and hurried away.

                  UGH, it was even worse than I thought. No one came after me, but that is probably because the place was packed and there was no space to give chase!

                2. Chinook*

                  Isabel, honestly, if they thought you shouldn’t have it or did something shifty, they would have chased you even if the place was packed, trust me. But, if you ate it quietly, no one would have noticed or said anything because we literally have no clue if you have had First Communion or not. add to that the fact that you were doing a “good thing” by physically supporting your friend, I would consider the issue an non-issue. Part of what Catholics consider a requirement of sin is intent. You had no intent (in fact, your intent was the opposite) and you consumed it (I am guessing). Ergo, nothing to feel horrible about.

                3. Mander*

                  This reminds me of my great-uncle’s funeral many years ago. My whole family is generic, not very observant Protestant, except for said uncle who converted to Catholicism when he fell in love with my aunt. At the funeral it rapidly became very obvious which of us were the non-Catholics. The poor priest was very confused at first when half the congregation didn’t know what to do or what prayers to say, so he started giving us instructions. It added a bit of humor to the service.

                4. Omne*

                  This is to Mander- I grew up Lutheran and I found out the first time I went to a Catholic church with my GF that our Lord’s Prayer is longer than the Catholic version (Our Father). Suddenly I was the only person speaking in the entire church.

                  BTW in case anyone runs into it, if you go through the Eucharist line as a non-Catholic you can cross your hands in front of your chest and bow slightly to the Priest, normally they acknowledge you or give you a quick blessing. It isn’t universal but either way it’s a fairly graceful way of opting out.

                5. Anonicat*

                  I’m way late to this discussion but man, for my next resume I should list my experience as a Brownie Junior Leader (aged 16)! Clearly recruiters are dying to hear about how my leadership skills were developed by teaching 8-year-olds to set fires!

        1. Gaia*

          I will admit that, being not at all religious, I was unfamiliar with the phrase “eat the host” and had a moment of abject horror when I thought you meant they EAT THE HOST.

          And then I read Elizabeth West’s comment below and felt silly.

          1. Chinook*

            ” had a moment of abject horror when I thought you meant they EAT THE HOST”

            And that is why that silly rumour about Catholics being cannibals/eating small children just won’t go away. :)

    2. Amber T*

      I was promoted earlier this year, but it had to officially wait til they hired my replacement. My old job included manning the front desk, so I got to meet some of the people interviewing for my position. One woman…

      – Had her rabbi call one of the partners (who was not part of the search, I doubt he even realized we were hiring) since they belonged to the same temple and “personally recommend” her. He was very confused.

      – Had her son tell another partner’s daughter (they went to school together, not sure if they were friends) that his mom was really looking forward to working with her dad (this partner had a say in whether or not she was hired, but would not be working directly with her).

      – Shook my hand on her way out after her final interview and said “I look forward to replacing you.”

      She was not hired.

      1. Artemesia*

        Somehow I am feeling a tick of empathy here. An inexperienced job seeker who is middle aged and trying to get into the labor force and knows that it is ‘who you know’ that is important and trying to do what she thinks the big players do. Sad.

    3. Library Director*

      We just interviewed someone. We’re very clear that primary communication is through email and not to call about the job before or after the interview. I’ll answer as many questions via email as the person needs. We just interviewed a young man. He personally knows one of the interviewers. His girlfriend called the interviewer to see when he would be hired. He was already at the bottom of the pile for a myriad of reasons.

  6. Evie*

    We had a retail store and an office component to our company. We were hiring for the office but had them go to the store down a floor to wait and someone went down and got them. The interview was fine, she seemed normal and we probably would have hired her. After she left the store person called up to tell us a story.

    The interviewee had come in and commented on the squeaky floors. The retail person said yeah it is an old building etc.. The interviewee then told her that her house was old and had creaky floors and “that’s why she didn’t let fat people come over.”

    ………

      1. KateHR*

        People don’t realize that people in offices talk, which is why you should always be nice to everyone you encounter. I trust our receptionist impression on a candidate then the owner of our company.

        1. Noah*

          Yes! If you ever interview with an airline, and are given a ticket to travel, staff will note in your reservation how you act and your appearance.

  7. Cara*

    My old building happened to be next to a Mosque and we were interviewing for an entry level admin position. One guy we interviewed (in his 40s or so) asked if we had ‘anything to do with THOSE people’ while rolling his eyes and tutting. No matter how we pulled the question set he’d bring everything back to religion and our proximity to the Mosque. When we mentioned our equal opps policy he acknowledged the importance of diversity and equality….

    1. MommaTRex*

      Did you thank him? Don’t we all wish candidates would be this open in interviews so we know we which resumes to round-file?

  8. Us, Too*

    I asked a software engineering candidate one time to explain how he approached a particularly difficult technical problem. He started to explain his understanding of the problem and then 5 seconds into his explanation, he paused, looked at me and said, “I could explain, but you probably wouldn’t understand.”

    1. Myrin*

      !!!
      How did he think interviewing works? They’re putting together the most clueless people in the company and see which job candidate can best explain things to them?

      1. Dan*

        I’ve been interviewed who don’t necessarily understand my background (transferable skillset), and when I suspect that may be the case, I simply ask if they are familiar with those techniques. If they say no, then I uplevel the description with something they can grasp.

        I was once interviewed by someone who very much had a background in what I was doing. For 15 minutes, she kept saying she didn’t understand some nuanced part. It wasn’t that complicated, but I learned if I had to work with her, I’d kill my self. Good thing it was a day long interview and they have six different groups.

        1. SystemsLady*

          Oh how did we ever know. Bet he didn’t use th Dear God.

          We actually *hired* a temp like that (long, complicated story about what he actually was) who outright told us he thought our job was beneath him and that’s why he went for the job he had. Which was in no way above us – it was simply a position that organized things so they were ready for us.

          That’s a paraphrase that sounds worse than what he actually said, but the paraphrase sums up his overall behavior pretty well. Consistently proclaiming he knew enough about something to do it himself then doing it completely wrong, etc.

          He was brought into the president’s office and fired pretty quickly once my old boss (who liked him for some reason, which had nothing to do with his own personality I’m sure) quit and the new one started.

    2. SusanIvanova*

      *boggle*

      I ask software interviewees about interesting problems they’ve had to solve, and as software’s a big field sometimes it’s areas I don’t know. So I’ve listened to answers that I didn’t understand, but I could tell that *they* did by the way they explained it, and that’s what I was looking for.

  9. H.C.*

    More amusing than straight out weird, but I had one where a project manager candidate proclaimed he’s natural leader and take charge type because he’s an Aries. (He mentioned this pretty early on too, so I was fairly distracted/nonplussed for the rest of the half-hour session.)

    1. Arjay*

      This one hit my funny bone. I’m going to try to work “As an Aries, I…” into conversations today. :)

    2. Security SemiPro*

      I had this! I asked a candidate why they believed they were qualified for a job and their answer was “Well, I’m a Virgo, so I’m detail oriented.”

      I had difficulty listening to the rest of their answers because I was so distracted trying to figure out how star sign was a qualified skill. And if belief that star sign could be a skill was an immediate disqualifier for a very logic/fact checking based position. (And what if their belief in astrology was strong enough to be considered religious? But then, declaring religious faith isn’t exactly a qualifying skill either, and still inappropriate for a job interview…)

      1. Serin*

        “Well, I’m a Virgo, so I’m detail oriented.”

        Ooh, that reminds me of the time I received a resume (for a position that required a fair amount of writing) that said the author was “detail-orientated.”

        1. H.C.*

          I know I’ve commented about this on AAM before – but this reminded me of a resume that said “Copy editor: 2011 – 2913”

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            Somewhere there’s a person facing a wall full of details and an immortal time-traveling copy-editor who are wondering why they never get call-backs.

            1. A*

              “an immortal time-traveling copy-editor who [is] wondering why they never get call-backs.”

              So THAT’S what The Doctor does when he’s not saving the universe…

        2. UKJo*

          Actually “orientated” is fine in Britain! I just double checked because I kept reading your post and wondering where the prob was. Of course, if they were American then your point stands :)

            1. Artemesia*

              Well I learned something. I have always assumed orientate, administrate and doctorial degree were all associated with the semi-literate.

      2. KateHR*

        I had someone tell me this too! And they also asked what my sign was and proceeded to tell me all about myself!!!!

      3. DJ*

        Honestly, I think it’s no less BS than saying “I’m a green so therefore I..” or “I’m an ENfP so I…” or any other nonsensical pop psychology junk.

    3. Karo*

      I have a work-friend that does this a lot, but not just with herself – she also projects it onto other people. Like “Oh, as a Cancer, you should do exactly what you said you were going to but with this tiny random tweak because emotions matter more to you.” And, yeah, emotions do matter to me, but so does logic. Because I’m a person.

      Pretty much every time that happens I have to walk away from the conversation.

      1. Kai*

        I have a coworker at my new job who says this kind of thing to me. It’s like, really? You’re surprised I’m a Virgo because I don’t exhibit every Virgo tendency?

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I once had a friend of a friend who barely even knew me insist that I must have got my own birthday wrong because there was no way I could possibly be an Aquarius. She went on and on about it. I just walked away in the end.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        You can avoid this by telling people that you were born under the sign of Ophiuchus the Serpent bearer…. Or, if you want, lecture them on the precession of the equinoxes until their eyes glaze over.

        I’m a bit sensitive on this point, having had more than one person ask me about my career in astrology.

        1. Kenji*

          I’m born on the dividing line between two signs, and I’ve learned a certain LOOK astrology fans get when they hear my birthday and light up with excitement…I’ve gotten very good at inwardly cringeing and then nodding through a lecture on what it means to be “on the CUSP of saggitarius”

        2. SpiderN0ises*

          I’ve done this. xD That would be a great star sign. And apparently the sun can be in Cetus in March? It’s such a cute constellation.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Ah well, as a Leo married to a Sagitarrius, I do know that that is completely true. . .all the fire signs are natural born leaders. Ha ha ha.

    5. Bookworm*

      Was there any possibility he was kidding? I tend to assume people are joking when they say stuff like that.

      1. H.C.*

        My co-interviewer and I considered it, but the candidate ended his response with that line (rather than starting with it & then going “Haha, just kidding, but seriously – I have demonstrated initiative numerous times in my previous roles with examples XYZ…”)

        So yeah, even as a joke that was weird – since we have to cut the silence by moving onto another question or following up on that fascinating star sign tidbit.

      2. Security SemiPro*

        If there had been more of an answer, maybe? But it was the entire answer! Said in the same tone as “Well, as a 15 year college professor, I’m comfortable with speaking to groups.” Self evident, no more explanation needed.

    6. Camellia*

      I took a “fun” personality test one time and the results came out as “mantis shrimp”. When I read the description to my family, they pretty much agreed that…it was right on target. :)

      “Mantis shrimps sport powerful claws that are used to attack and kill prey by spearing, stunning, or dismemberment. In captivity, some larger species are capable of breaking through aquarium glass with a single strike.”

      1. Allons-y*

        Can you imagine using that result to describe yourself instead of a star sign?
        “Well, as a Mantis Shrimp, I don’t sit well in long meetings…”

    7. Ann Cognito*

      I asked a candidate one time to explain where they learned their ethics and values, one of a series of questions on that topic that we always asked at that organization, and she said “I’m a Virgo and so is my brother.” My co-worker, who was interviewing with me, wouldn’t look at me and I didn’t want to catch her eye either, but the second the candidate left the room at the end we fell around laughing, and never figured-out exactly what she meant.

      1. Ann Cognito*

        We did follow-up with here there and then, but her explanation made as much sense as the original response!

  10. ashleyh*

    I had a job where I hired a lot of teens at their first job. I got a lot of great stories from that, but my favorite was the teenager who got an interview because his family donated a lot of money to our organization. He showed up to his interview wearing a t-shirt that said “F*ck B*tches Get Paid” and said he was really looking for a job where he’d get paid a lot for doing as little work as possible

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Oh my goodness. Did you have to hire him because the parents were donors? Please tell me this story ends with his parents knocking some sense into him…but I bet it doesn’t. :(

    2. Katie F*

      Well, hey, at least he was honest. So he had that going for him. He couldn’t have telegraphed it any better if he’d tattooed “I Will Be a Wretched Choice, Don’t Pick Me” to his forehead.

    3. EleanoraUK*

      Hahaha, no one told him this is not one of those situations where ‘at least I’m honest about it’ applies.

    4. Me2*

      Many years ago, I worked in HR at a large auto supply chain store, most of our hires were teenagers applying for their first or second job, usually in our parts department. I’ll never forget the applicant who had previous experience working at two different fast food companies and listed his supervisors as “Wendy” and “Jack.” No, those weren’t actual supervisor names.

    5. Naomi*

      I have to wonder if that guy was pushed into the interview by his parents and was deliberately trying to tank it so he wouldn’t be offered the job.

      1. AshleyH*

        Oh, 100%. My VP called our development director and said in no uncertain terms that unfortunately we could not hire the kid.

    6. Dan*

      While I actually share the same career goal as this guy, I have learned that discretion is the better part of valor.

    7. KR*

      I just had a new hire (teenager or early 20s) show up for her on-boarding process in a belly shirt. Thankfully we had some company shirts to give her before she went to HR and I gave her a quick low-down on the dress code. And no, it wasn’t her first job.

      1. JennyFair*

        We had to provide pictures of our hands for a project at work (which sounds about as effective and valuable as you are picturing right this moment) and I had one of my reports provide a shot done during one of her part-time modeling job shoots that was her bare midriff with her hands tucked into her jeans. Gorgeous, artsy pic…totally not work appropriate.

  11. Act*

    OH. And of course, our long list of ridiculous writing samples. Some favorites:

    – Some guy sent us porn. Little a story about him having sex.
    – The woman who sent us a paper on why witchcraft is real.
    – The guy who sent us his defense of the pedophile in Lolita.
    – Werewolf. Fanfic.

    Writing samples are the best.

    1. Myrin*

      What kind of job did you hire for, if I may ask? Something related to creative writing? Because if not, if it’s about e. g. scientific writing, these samples or even more off-base!

      (I mean, I love me some werewolf fanfic but not in the workplace!)

      1. Act*

        Marketing writing. We basically did a dance whenever we got writing samples that were even mildly relevant. Never change, people who send in writing samples, never change.

        1. De Minimis*

          We require all candidates to do a writing sample, regardless of the job [org is a non-profit involved in education.] I would love to see some werewolf fanfic, most of the ones I’ve seen are just job related essay questions.

          1. Act*

            We had a dramatic reading. It was great.

            That said, the boring ones tend to be more helpful for hiring.

    2. Tris Prior*

      When I was working for a newspaper, we had a reporter candidate send in explicit poetry as her writing sample….

      Just, no.

      1. Nanc*

        Oh gosh the “Poetry” samples! We writing for technology firms and never once has a client asked us for a white paper in iambic pentameter or free verse! (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself because we currently have no poet on staff).

      2. YankeeNonprofitChick*

        I’m a poet who has always had a “day job,” first as a journalist, then in PR, now in fundraising. I would never have sent a poem as a writing sample for any position. I was actually quite closeted as a poet until I realized if you googled me most of the results were poetry-related. So I started mentioning it in job interviews, briefly. I had one interviewer ask me if I were able to be organized (because poets are flakes???). At another position, I was put in charge of a data conversion and I joked, who thought it was a good idea to put the poet in charge of the database?

        1. Amber T*

          My college offered a scholarship for math and science (and once upon a time, I thought I was going to be a math major). You had to write an essay about how math/science interested you, or what you liked about it, I don’t quite remember at this point. I wrote a poem. I did not get the scholarship.

          (My first day of calc, the professor was taking attendance, got to my name, looked at me, and said “you’re the poet?” I was embarrassed and friends have not let me live that down since.)

            1. RhysasaurusRex*

              My college essay was a 1 act play of me doing a dramatic poetry reading.

              My highschool later used it in an example packet of how to write awesome admission essays. Not sure what they were thinking.

              (to be fair, I was accepted to my first choice).

              1. Marillenbaum*

                As someone who used to work in college admissions, that’s pretty cool! I wouldn’t recommend it for most people, because it’s easy to do wrong, but if you have confidence and skill as a writer–HECK YES! It makes reading all those applications a little less soul-crushing.

    3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I am so, so disappointed that in my years of hiring writers, I have never received anything like this :(

      The only non-work samples I get are boring school papers.

    4. Anon Moose*

      Oh, I should have read the comments before posting. We had an in depth writing sample analyzing video games like Mario and Legend of Zelda at my nonprofit. Not as disqualifying but still.

        1. Artemesia*

          I used to read college applications; the most memorable was the first person account of his birth offered by one candidate.

      1. Act*

        This isn’t odd to me…? If the only work the candidate had was scholarly and it was a strongly constructed paper, whether the subject matter was traditionally highbrow enough is a weird quibble.

        1. Anon Moose*

          It was not the only work the candidate had done from their resume, and it was unfortunately badly edited. It was also just not a good match to the job which was writing in the legal field. I didn’t actually nix it (I actually read it with some interest) but my boss did. She frowns on academic writing samples for this job anyway, since they aren’t that helpful.

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      Amazing. I may have gone to college with the Lolita guy. “It’s a beautiful love story!’

      1. Liane*

        I need to text one of my references and make sure he isn’t going to answer, “She’s very detail oriented, and her proofreading skills greatly improved the quality of my Star Wars fanfics,” when asked about my work quality.
        Wait, I don’t need to bother–he has more sense.

        But it is true!

        1. Amber T*

          Writing fanfic is awesome and has definitely improved my writing skills. That being said… I don’t particularly want my employer or coworkers reading any of my stuff.

    6. blushing anonymous*

      I was one of those people!! right out of college, a local weekly newspaper was hiring…. I don’t even remember… a restaurant reviewer or something? they asked for three writing samples. I sent them:

      1. a college paper — maybe my senior project about the affects of panopticism on gender roles in the railway children
      2. one of my BEST Poems
      3. a paper on some french novel (I don’t remember which) written for a French Lit class. IN FRENCH

      I hope they got a good laugh at least…

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        The writing sample in French might actually be my favorite story of the day.

    7. lindsay*

      We just hired a business manager and one of the candidates brought in a list of her poetry publications. The only relevant part was the offhand comment about writing a business plan for expanding her publications/writing.

    8. Carpe Librarium*

      Now I kinda want to apply for jobs that require writing samples. I’d send a couple of suitable items, then include a short fun one with a note that it’s just to amuse the sample-reader if they need a break from the applications.

  12. burnout*

    I had an interviewee who was late to her interview. At about the 15 minute mark, 2 of my staff came into my office to tell me that they saw a woman in the ladies’ room washing her hair in the sink. As in, head under the faucet, shampoo on the counter washing her hair. They thought it might be my interviewee. Sure enough, it was. She arrived for her interview looking like a drowned rat with soaking wet hair, her shirt and shoulders wet. She had hair dye stains on her hands and kept asking over and over again if we were “in the cloud.” She did not get hired.

    1. Hermione*

      As someone who found her first grey hair this week, I have to say I’m sympathetic, yet also bewildered.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        I’m sure I will get some eye rolls for this, but I was honestly delighted when I found my first gray hair. I actually thought it was tinsel at first, but then I was like, “Why would there be tinsel in my hair in February?” I’m hoping it will age me up a bit, so colleagues will stop treating me so young.

        1. Jennie*

          I work in children’s programming and often come home to find feathers, glitter, and other stray things in my hair – so I also thought my first grey hairs were craft supplies! And I loved how they looked so sparkly that I have just been letting them grow in and join the party

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I found my first gray hair on my fortieth birthday. I was washing my hands in the restroom at work, and when I glanced up at the mirror, I saw something very shiny and silvery sticking right straight up at the front and center of the hairline. That was when I knew I was old.

          1. Afiendishthingy*

            Huh. I’m 32 and have very noticeable white streaks, or at least I did before I started dyeing my hair cherry red.

            1. KAG*

              I find that frustrating. I worked HARD for my gray hairs (started appearing after trauma at 27), but I also like to dye my hair and, well, don’t have the patience (or the $$) to do the one-strand-at-a-time.

      2. Kate*

        Haha! I found my first gray hair in the eighth grade. Now that I’m in my mid-30’s, I’m getting a pretty well defined gray streak. One of my hair stylists told me it was cool like Rogue’s, so yeah, totally not stressing about that anymore :)

        1. Elizabeth*

          I suppose that is better than what I call mine: the skunk stripe. (I’m seriously debating highlights to hide this stuff…)

          1. Landshark*

            My dad called his gray streaks that pretty much up until he had more gray than black, so you’re not alone.

            My mom was a teacher and just named gray hairs after problem students (as a joke at home, not as an insult to the students). Streaks were named after big problems or full classes… and one was named after me, even though I wasn’t TOO bad… just because I was a stubborn butt sometimes.

        2. entrylevelsomething*

          Those gray streaks are so cool, especially paired with dark hair. My hair is dishwater blonde so eventually I guess it’s just going to get gradually paler. Boring.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            You can do highlights to jazz it up a bit. I got so tired of touching up grey on dark auburn every two weeks (my natural color is a light reddish-brown) that I went blonde. And I am LOVING IT. Although they have to be done in my salon, I can put off touch-ups now to four or five weeks, and it’s just so different. When I curl my hair now, I feel like a celebrity. :)

          2. 42*

            I have one of those too, right above my forehead and I call it my Religious Experience. Kinda like C. Heston after he came down from Mt Sinai in The Ten Commandments..

          3. Phyllis B*

            Yeah, I am a natural blonde who turned into dishwater blonde which turned into….blech. So I became a red-hair. I can’t wait until it’s completely silver/white. But knowing my family history, I don’t know. When my grand-mother died at 85 her hair was black with just a dusting of grey. ( I do have a white streak, but it seems like I can’t seem to style my hair where it shows. So I just cover it with color.)

    2. Bee Eye LL*

      I had an interviewee once use the bathroom before the interview. Not a big deal except he barely dried his hands so when he came in to interview, I got a big wet sloppy handshake from him. Not very appealing at all.

    3. Anon Moose*

      Sigh. I’m hoping it was not because the candidate was homeless or did not have access to a shower.

      1. Chinook*

        My first thought was possibly a poorly timed bird dropping. But, “in the cloud” would have been a deal breaker.

        1. Karo*

          But the shampoo! Like, did she get hit then run to the drug store to get shampoo and come in? If yes, couldn’t she have bought bottled water at the drug store and washed it in the parking lot?

          1. Mel*

            Or you know, in the drug store bathroom…or pretty much anywhere BUT the potential employers bathroom. LOL

      2. SystemsLady*

        The hair dye bit is what gets me/makes me think that thankfully wasn’t it.

        Maybe accidental hair bleaching or stressing about a grey?? Even then they make cover sticks (at least if the former was isolated)…

        1. burnout*

          She wasn’t homeless. She came very HIGHLY recommended from a known source, and I had done a phone interview that she totally aced. I was super excited to have her come meet in person. Then….. this. It was really weird. My interview partner and I kept giving each other the “side eye”. And she didn’t try to explain the wet hair either. I would have thought maybe a “I got something in my hair on the way in,” or… “I just came from the gym”…. I don’t know. It was really bizarre.

          I remember telling my staff who came into the office, “I don’t think I want to know that the person I may interview was washing her hair in the sink…… that gives me information I should judge her on.” And their reply was, “But… you’re going to wonder why she’s WET.” LOL

          1. AnotherAlison*

            See. . .there was a story behind my drug comment above. ~15 years ago, my SO hired a woman for a admin job who had a fantastic resume and interviewed well. He had to fire her the first week for bizarre behavior. I don’t remember any of the specifics, but it became obvious that she was on meth. She had previously held mid-level positions at Sprint and couldn’t get by in an admin job at a <10 person maintenance company. People change. . .

          2. stevenz*

            I could be wrong but I don’t think that “people who wash their hair in the restroom sink before an interview” are a protected class under EEOC regulations. So you would be OK using that information in your hiring decision. (It’s the cloud thing that’s got me… Maybe she got shampoo in her eyes and … Oh, never mind.)

      3. Polka Dot Bird*

        But even if she were homeless, and the only possible place she could wash her hair was in that specific bathroom, she still way too late for an interview. Over 15 minutes!

  13. MindoverMoneyChick*

    We had a guy who had interviewed pretty well and at the end of the interviewed we showed him around the office and introduced him to some of the employees. He met one woman he found attractive and started making sexually suggestive statements to her in front of the interviewer and the 3 other people she shared an office with.

    Yeah, he did not get invited back.

    1. Hermione*

      Well, I suppose it’s a good thing he showed his colors BEFORE you hired him, but honestly, yuck.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Ick, Ick, Ick!!! You have to wonder about people like that. Does he know he didn’t get the job because of the sexual comments? Or is he thinking he was just overqualified, too cool for that job? Wowsers.

    3. Gandalf the Nude*

      I hope someone called him out on it. Letting folks get away with that sort of behavior reinforces it.

    4. MindoverMoneyChick*

      Actually, yes he did get called out. He was interviewed first one on one with vice-president A outside of the office. She liked him and passed him on to vice-president B and a couple of us managers for a full interview in the office.

      We were actually planning to hire him up until the point he pulled that crap. Vice-president A did call him and tell him he did not get the job and explained why. Apparently he took it fairly well and said he understood, which was surprising. And yes we dodged a bullet.

      1. Blue Anne*

        I’m really glad it was explained to him, and I hope he spent a long time kicking himself.

    5. MindoverMoneyChick*

      As a side note, it probably shouldn’t matter, but probably it did – both vice-presidents were women and partners in the company. They did not put up with sexiest crap in the office or make any of us put up with it.

  14. Bend & Snap*

    The candidate who kept telling our receptionist she was returning my call to get around our screening, when I hadn’t called her.

    And the candidate who, when asked to tell us why we should hire her for media relations, told me and my manager she’d “pitch her ass off” for us and also asked if she could take half days during the summer, revolving around the Red Sox home schedule, because she worked at a t-shirt shop near Fenway park and was needed for games.

    1. Amber T*

      As a former receptionist I HATED when people did that. I don’t think I ever got that with potential job people, but we got it with sales people all the time. Once I got confirmation that it was indeed a salesperson and not someone anyone wanted to talk to, I liked to play dumb and toy with them. “Oh you’re looking for HR? Hmmm… I don’t think I know who our HR person is…” “Oh you’re selling printers? How do you spell that, p… r… i…” If I could make the salesperson hang up on me it was a job well done.

      (I only did this with super snobby salespeople, not decent ones who were just trying to do their job without being asshats)

      1. Noah*

        The worst are the ones you send to voicemail and then they press zero to I guess see if someone else will answer.

  15. Big10Professor*

    More weird than bad, but I once got a candidate resume that said his interests were “church, dancing, and honey mustard.”

    1. SJ*

      we had a candidate resume with an interests section, and his first listed interest was “people.” Maybe it was due to a lack of sleep or something, but our head of HR and I had been going through the resumes and we just about died laughing.

        1. HYDR*

          We were interviewing dean candidates for a graduate school, and one guy listed his interests as ‘driving through backroads’ in some obscure country. During his interview, he asked if we had many foreign alums (we have a few, but not enough to warrant a trip on our dime for him to go overseas!). We saw through his technique.

        2. Anonymouse*

          Barbershop quartets are actually huge. There’s actually a Barbershop Harmony Society that has an international championship and they hold an international convention that has several thousand attendees.

          1. Taft's Bathtub*

            Don’t forget the ladies! There’s at least two international barbershop organizations for women as well. It probably does sound funny to people who didn’t realize that barbershop choruses and quartets are officially A Thing.

      1. anonforthis*

        Listed in the “interests” section of a managerial candidate’s resume: “shitting.” Candidate called us shortly after applying, apologizing up one side and down the other because he’d just realized that his teenage son had made an unauthorized edit to his resume.

          1. Mookie*

            Seriously, I pity anyone who doesn’t or can’t enjoy it thoroughly. One of life’s pleasures.

        1. Josh S*

          This guy would have absolutely had my utter sympathy and I would have absolutely forgiven him…asked him to submit a corrected resume for the files, but absolutely forgiven him.

          I lol’d

      2. Tinkerer*

        My best one was “hammocks”! No context, no explanation of any kind – just hammocks!

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      One of my friends listed “drinking” as an interest on his resume, and when he kept complaining about not getting an callbacks for jobs and asked me and another friend to look at his resume, we told him that no one was going to take him seriously if he put alcohol as an interest on a resume.

      1. GertietheDino*

        I had a job where I helped my boss screen resumes for a sales position. If their social media listed their interests/pictures as partying, drinking, drugs whatever, they were tossed in the NO pile. Make your profile private people!

        1. Blue Anne*

          When I was an admin at a tech company, one of my jobs was gatekeeping against the many unsolicited calls from recruiters. If I thought someone was a recruiter but I wasn’t sure, I would google them.

          It’s amazing how many times I’ve gotten to say “Hey, nice shirtless pic” on the work phone. 100% young men who were less than a year out of college.

      2. INTP*

        Actually, we had a client who I probably would have considered that a plus for, though I would have deleted it from the resume before showing them. There was a beer excursion during the interview process, beer in the office, Mandatory Fun trips to Vegas, etc. They definitely would have preferred an over-drinking employee over a non-drinking one.

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          I admit, I always wonder how this plays out in startups or offices where there’s such a focus on drinking at or after work, especially for people who don’t drink for personal or religious reasons.

          1. alter_ego*

            It’s not quite a startup, but there’s a pretty heavy drinking culture in my office of about 45 people. I don’t drink, at all, for any reason. Mostly I just go along, and drink orange juice or whatever. There’s definitely stuff I don’t get invited to, but for the most part, I don’t think it’s affected my career, at least not any more than my being the only woman has.

          2. INTP*

            In this case, the company was very conformist and chose employees like they were choosing pledges for a fraternity. I really don’t think a non-drinker would do well there unless they were VERY bro-ish in every other way.

            I’m sure there are other companies, though, where most people drink heavily with coworkers, but they’re relaxed about people who choose not to drink. Of course, some of us find it pretty annoying to be around drunk people when not drinking, so it could make it difficult to attend all the social events even if you’re not penalized for not drinking at them.

      3. Windchime*

        We had a candidate who was so nervous that he was sweating and trembling. His cell phone kept ringing and he couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. And then he mentioned that his hobbies were drinking wine and collecting guns. I voted “No” on hiring him because he was also super creepy. I was outvoted, he was hired. He lasted 6 months, I think.

      4. bridget*

        I’ve seen a fair bit of “craft beer,” “wine collecting,” and “[specific county in Kentucky] bourbon.” Those don’t give me much pause. This sounds a lot closer to just straight up “getting hammered.”

        Also to the mustard comment above, I have also seen “guacamole” listed as an interest. Law students are scrambling to make themselves seem quirky and interesting, especially the marathon/rock climbing/international travel interests section became too much of a cliche.

        1. Marillenbaum*

          Yeah, listing craft beer or wine collecting seems more…legitimate, somehow. Like you have a hobby, instead of an addiction.

          1. Library Director*

            Yes. I’m working on getting my certification as an Italian wine judge. Still thinking I wouldn’t put it on my resume as an interest. Maybe translate it to Italian Culture and History?

            1. Sincaru*

              Italian wine judge? Just curious, do you mind sharing which association are you part of (AIS, FIS, FISAR, ONAV, ASPI)?

                1. Sincaru*

                  Oh, cool! I see it is in collaboration with WSA (which is founded by the same people who founded AIS, which is the most recognized in Italy and by which I am certified). My diploma took a year (46 classes x 2,5 hours) and a two-day exam. Your course sounds fun, I am always glad when people take time to learn about my country’s wine, the best in the world IMO! Best of luck.

                2. Sincaru*

                  Sorry, just saw that certification is WSA but it was designed in conjunction with AIS – so yes, my colleagues!

        2. DMented Kitty*

          “I’m not just chugging beer! I’m sampling a flight of gluten-free German lagers with a French wine pairing — it’s called a smorgasvein and it’s elegantly cultural!”

      5. anon in the uk*

        As a teen I made a resume for the family cat, whose interests included sleeping, climbing trees and shouting at other cats. As far as I know neither of ny parents sent it off as theirs.

        1. DMented Kitty*

          I am seriously tempted to submit a resume for my cat. She either has a career at Kinko’s because she likes to hit the “Start/Copy” button on our printer, or a job at the drug testing facility since she likes to watch people pee then disappears right after you’re done.

    3. SophieChotek*

      Having gone to a conservative Christian undergrad that explicitly forbade dancing, drinking, sex, or card-playing (we had to sign papers saying we would not do any of these things)…apparently the church was not as conservative as the one that my undergrad college was affiliated with…

      1. Chinook*

        Considering that I can’t plan our semi-annual Church Lady gatherings without the guarantee of two types of wine and that I once knew a priest who pulled out his credit card at an (over 18) youth group gathering and said “the next round’s on God,” I feel confident in saying that different churches have very different views on the use of alcohol.

          1. Chinook*

            It was a Catholic college with a men’s residence and it was a gold card because the priests all took vows of poverty, so their university salaries went to the order to cover their expenses. The priest who ordered this was the College President! He also opened up the spare rooms to any females who joined them in the college sports teams’ annual “Drink a Small Town Dry” event.

            It always shocked me how so many alumni convinced their wives that sending their sons to this college would mean they were going to live a quiet, studious campus life because they were being supervised by priests.

            1. OpheliaInWaders*

              LOL, having attended a Jesuit university, I would like to confirm that the parents’ expectations were misplaced.

              1. Mander*

                Hah. As an innocent little (Protestant, of the variety that accepts beer with football but looks askance at anything else) 18 year old I once did an overnight campus visit at a Jesuit university. The girls I stayed with were supposed to show me around campus, talk to me about student life, and make sure I got to the events the next day.

                Instead they took me to the pool hall that was pretty lax about under age drinking, got me rather drunk, and sent me off to the events with an aspirin and a coffee.

        1. Blue Anne*

          I will join any church where “The next round’s on God” is an accepted practice.

          That said, my Grandma’s church just had to fire their pastor for buying a segway out of church funds, so maybe not…

          1. junipergreen*

            Gives new meaning to the phrase “holy rollers.”
            … I’ll see myself out now.

        2. Blackout*

          At my church’s group for young adults we take turns bringing in refreshments. Alcoholic beverages are frequently a part of the refreshment selection. My favorite was the week that someone brought in Sweet Baby Jesus beer for everyone.

        3. zora.dee*

          Agree. I worked for a Catholic priest who super loved his bourbon. I didn’t even drink at the time, so I never got to take advantage of the rounds he bought for staff, darnit!

        4. AliceBD*

          I feel bad because my church’s 20s and 30s group isn’t going to one cool location because they only have alcohol (no food) and I can’t drink (medical reasons). We discussed this location while at a local craft brewery eating amazing pub food and the rest of the group having 2 or 3 drinks each. I do assume there will be alcohol at basically every evening church event for adults. (I’m Episcopalian.)

        5. Library Director*

          Oh, yes. I grew up in a faith tradition where girls didn’t wear pants, no dancing, and you never drank in public. When I joined the Army and became a chaplain’s assistant I was stationed in Germany. I almost passed out when the priest asked if I liked wine (ummmm, uh, why). Because Germany has great wine. It was one of my first conversion steps :-D .

            1. Library Director*

              Considering the number of unwed teens in this hyper conservative church it might be the same. Genes but no jeans. ;-)

        6. BananaPants*

          Our Lutheran church holds a wine tasting dinner twice a year. Lutherans are often of German or Scandinavian background and are beer fans, too.

          I’m a craft beer enthusiast, but I wouldn’t put it on a resume.

      2. The Expendable Redshirt*

        I know of a church where the pastor invites people to visit the nearby Irish Pub after service. Half price appetisers!

    4. INTP*

      Actually, I kind of respect that more than people who list a million good-on-paper interests that you know they don’t have time to do ALL of on a regular basis. “My interests are Ironman Triathlons, reading to the blind, coding all my own iPhone apps, and weekend trips to Buenos Aires.”

      1. Windchime*

        Oh, no kidding. That reads like a match.com ad. As if people could do all these things and still have time for work, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.

        1. INTP*

          It reminds me of a story a supervising professor told me in grad school. When she started her Ph.D. program, in a class they had to go around sharing their names and some of their interests. All the classmates were listing classic or esoteric authors they enjoyed reading and other academia-friendly interests. When it got to her, she said “I really like TV. My favorite is Law and Order SVU.” It turned out that the professor was a big SVU fan as well and they got into a great conversation about it. It’s a nice reminder that most of us are doing pretty normal, unprestigious things during our downtime no matter our day jobs, and being honest about it can provide an opportunity for connection that’s more valuable than impressing someone with your perfectly curated list of hobbies.

          1. Marillenbaum*

            Exactly! I consider my TV-watching a legitimate hobby, and I will gladly talk to you at length and in depth about what I’m watching on Netflix.

              1. Marillenbaum*

                I’m currently OBSESSED with “Stranger Things”, and I’m rewatching Gilmore Girls in preparation for the new episodes in November.

          2. Rebecca in Dallas*

            Haha something similar happened to my sister. She started her PhD program in poetry and the professor had them go around and talk about what they had read over the summer. She answered “The Twilight Series.”

        2. Just Another Techie*

          Enh. If you’re a two-income, no-kids family and can afford a housekeeper and laundry service, it’s not that hard to have ridiculous hobbies. I’m a semi-serious aerial acrobat in my spare time and spend around 10-15 hours a week training, not to mention time spent going to circus shows to see what other artists are doing, volunteer work through my church, a weekly book group, and a weekly knitting group. I do eat a lot of frozen dinners though :)

            1. Elle*

              I would hire someone to do the grocery shopping…I recently discovered that the local Giant Eagle has online ordering, and for $5, I order my stuff online, and then to go pick it up. I really love it!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Exjob used to do that at Sam’s Club for our break room supplies–Click and Pick. I would order it and then go get it the next day. Eventually, I learned where everything was and could gather it myself and check out faster than standing in the Click and Pick line.

                I would love to have my home stuff delivered from a store, like back in the day. :)

                1. Yet Another JD*

                  Is Amazon Prime Now available near you, Elizabeth? It’s pretty darned good with getting groceries to one’s door.

              2. Amber T*

                I’ve become obsessed with FreshDirect and Peapod (Stop&Shop) where you order it online and they DELIVER IT TO YOU. Seriously they just bring up all the bags and put it right in your kitchen. FD is only located in Southern NY (I think), but I know Stop&Shop is around further. If you have any big major grocery chains they might offer the same thing.

                1. Security SemiPro*

                  When I was super sick and my husband was working full time and in school, Peapod delivery is how we ate. Its miraculous.

                  We now pick up our weekly grocery order, but it saves so much time over actually shopping. And makes sure you stick to your list rather than browsing random stuff. We end up grabbing produce on a mid week run, but general shopping is dropped in the car trunk Friday afternoon.

                2. Artemesia*

                  We are old and live in a building with a lot of people who are older and Peapod is what keeps many of the elderly around us more or less independent. We walk to the grocery store half a mile away and lug stuff home but we are heartened by the fact that Peapod will be there for us when we need it. And Amazon prime — we will never need to leave the building.

              3. Mander*

                Wow, what? You have to go pick it up?

                I have clearly lived on the UK too long. Almost every grocery chain here does delivery. I didn’t realize this hadn’t come to America yet.

            1. A Non*

              Aerial acrobat here. It is pretty damn cool. It’s also not any more esoteric than finding the nearest place that offers lessons and signing up. Circus is undergoing a huge revival right now, and is no longer something you have to be born into. The school I attend teaches hundreds of adult beginners across all the circus disciplines, aerials included. (You do still kind of have to get into it as a kid, or into a similar discipline like dance or gymnastics, if you want to do it professionally. But that’s different.)

      2. Artemesia*

        Like politicians who once spent a weekend, or even a summer, on their grandfather’s estate and like to talk about their farm work background; or who interned at a company doing office work before their Harvard MBA and talk about how they worked their way up from the Secretarial Pool to CEO; or who spent one Friday night at a soup kitchen for their fraternity and stress the volunteer work they have done — each of these with pictures.

      1. ggg*

        Entire resume (for an intern position, but still):

        Name
        Ivy League School
        Major
        Interests: Football, video games and working out

        You need more interesting interests, kid.

  16. Seal*

    I’ve had 2 candidates sit and spin on their swivel chairs during their one-on-one interviews with me (well, not so much spin all the way around as swivel from side to side while looking at the ceiling). Made it very hard to establish eye contact.

    We had a candidate for a department head job come in dressed like she was going clubbing – low cut dress, spiked heels, over the top makeup and jewelry. That look does not scream librarian applying for a middle management position at an academic library.

    Had another candidate come in wearing an otherwise appropriate outfit with Birkenstock sandals. In December. With no socks. It’s fine not to wear heels, but ballet flats would have been FAR more appropriate. I spent so much time wondering if her feet were cold that I missed most of her presentation.

    1. animaniactoo*

      That last candidate might have been my godmother. Who tends to run hot all the time. No, her feet are not cold and she doesn’t mind if you ask – once.

      1. KR*

        I’m a short person and sometimes I can’t reach in swivel chairs so I end up spinning whether I like it or not! Get some not-swivel chairs – they take the travel out of the interview.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      Because I have Raynaud’s, and therefore my feet would have been in agony in her situation, I also would not have been able to pay attention. Objectively, I know that if she is choosing to wear those kinds of shoes in winter, she’s probably not cold. But I still would have been distracted.

    3. mskyle*

      Speaking of chairs, when I used to hire student workers at a university library I had a young man scoot up to the main desk on one of the rolling computer chairs to ask for an application (and this was not a short distance… he covered many yards and had to go around other tables/chairs/people). Great first impression with the hiring manager, doofus! I don’t remember whether he ever actually submitted the application, but I know I made a note of his name so I could put in on the bottom of the pile in case he did.

      1. Seal*

        Normally I’d agree with you, except it was December and the temperature was in the teens. If you must wear sandals when it’s that cold, socks would be expected.

        1. Perse's Mom*

          Eh, not really. Born and raised in Wisconsin; I could wear sandals year-round. Unless it’s a polar vortex situation, the temps don’t bother my feet. I only regret sandals if the weather turns foul, because wet sandals can get slippery.

          That said, the typical Birkenstock sandal is at flip-flop levels of non-formal footwear.

      2. Rana*

        I consider Birkenstocks to be the exception to that rule. They even make socks that are specifically meant to be worn with them.

    4. Library Director*

      Did you interview my husband? He wears Birkies year round. No socks. He did break down and wear socks with his Birkies (in suit and tie) when he defended his thesis. This May he attempted to wear real shoes in his suit while manning first aid stations in Rome. The team told him to stop and wear his Birkies (with socks). Granted these are people who know him and it’s expected.

  17. Anonymouse*

    While working in HR, I had a gentleman come to my desk and request an application.

    After I explained that we did not have applications and he could apply from our website, but before I could offer him the use of one of our computers, he stormed out the door.

    About five minutes later, one of the security guards came and asked if we had just had a visitor. It turned out that after leaving our office, this person had been so mad about not being able to get a paper application that he peed all over our elevator. The elevator only went to one floor, which means somehow he managed to pee, finish, and zip back up before the elevator reached the bottom floor.

    They had to shut the elevator down for two days to decontaminate it because the pee had gotten behind the buttons.

    To cap it all off, in the middle of the security guard telling us this, the candidate went to the front desk of the building to complain about me, resulting in the front desk calling to lecture me about being polite.

          1. Anonymouse*

            This is very paraphrased because the conversation has been a few years:
            PBX: “I have a gentleman here who says he tried to apply for a job and you were very rude to him.”
            Me: “He peed in the elevator!”
            PBX: “Well, he says you were rude to him!”
            Me: “But he peed in the elevator! Please hold him there!”
            PBX: “That’s not my problem. I’ve given him (boss’) number. Thank you.”

    1. RVA Cat*

      Please, please tell me the Whizzer was arrested and charged with something – public urination, vandalism….

      1. Anonymouse*

        No. They actually took his complaint seriously and felt I was partially at fault because I was “rude”. I should point out that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t rude.

        Yes, it makes as much sense as it sounds.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I wonder how rude you have to be for people to decide peeing all over the elevator is an appropriate response.

    2. LBK*

      WTF is wrong with people? Seriously, I cannot imagine what goes on in someone’s head that leads them to this kind of action.

    3. Annoying Girl*

      Of course his behavior was outrageous but be careful. I seem to recall that some states require that you have paper applications available.

    4. pope suburban*

      We had a client poo on our bathroom floor once, because she was angry that we wouldn’t stay open way past close of business and carry her presumably-expensive wine to her car for her– which I told her we are expressly forbidden to do, because of the liability, when she called the front desk from inside the building like it was a horror movie (and, you know, it kind of was). Thankfully, she left on her own initiative while my coworker and I were locked in the boss’s office, making the most awkward phone call ever to see what he wanted to do (He was on the road at the time). Which should have been the end of it, but no, she tried to sneak back into the building through the locked side door, forcing us to wait her out and call for reinforcements. She sounded and appeared to be lucid and not high or ill, I guess she was just vindictive? I wonder if she and the Whizzer are friends.

      1. Anonymouse*

        I guess I’m lucky I only pee-angered him. I think if I poop-angered him, I might have left that job a lot sooner.

        1. pope suburban*

          Hey, I’m just relieved for both of us that they did it well away from our desks. I’d like to think that someone eliminating in front of you would be cause to quit and still get unemployment.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        What I wonder is if these pee-angry and poop-angry people are able to pee or poop on command whenever they are angered, or if they just got lucky and happened to have a supply at the particular time when the anger occurred. Like, can one be perpetually prepared in case of being angry enough to pee or poop?

        1. pope suburban*

          I have to figure it’s a spur of the moment thing, and so only happens when they have the, uh, ammunition handy. I can’t imagine holding it for who knows how long in case someone angers you. Although I can’t imagine using anything other than a toilet (or bedpan, in the worst-case scenario) for elimination, so clearly I am not the best person to try to find insight into these people. :’D

          1. Mr. Mike*

            This is likely a behavior that happens more often, so, in response to Mallory, this person probably ‘held’ onto the ammunition in order to ‘deal’ with the rejection.

    5. MashaKasha*

      He PEED ON THE BUTTONS. While going down one floor!

      I’m impressed. This skill has to be in demand somewhere. Nowhere that I’ve worked, mind you, but somewhere.

      1. OhNo*

        I think the real question is which came first: him peeing on the buttons, or him pressing the button for his floor?

        You’d think there would be a logical progression here, but given that he peed in the elevator I doubt logic has much stake in this guy’s thought process.

        1. Anonymouse*

          I feel like he had to have peed and then touched the buttons because he was buttoned and zipped when he got off on the security footage.

            1. Alice Ulf*

              I just bark-laughed loud enough to echo. Thank goodness I’m the only one in this office during lunch. XD

  18. Name(Required)*

    I work for a rather well known magazine company and while hiring for a creative position one applicant asked to take a selfie with me for her instagram(I declined). After she left found her instagram, it was full of obnoxious selfies, a lot of alcohol, trespassing and harassing wildlife- the most resent was a picture of her getting ready for her interview in her mesh bra with our magazine name hashtagged below.

    1. ElectricTeapots*

      #diditforthegram
      “It” being applied for a job and completely ignored all codes of business conduct. Hope the ‘gram was worth it!

  19. Master Bean Counter*

    Were we taking applications for an IT person. A person who would do everything from desk top installs to security protocols to server maintenance. We got lots of applications for the position. One gentleman called and asked to speak to the hiring person. I took the call. He told me that he was older than our average candidate had back problems and couldn’t bend to get under desks. He also couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds. He then went on to say that if we should hire him because he was the most qualified person and if we didn’t he would file a complaint for age discrimination.
    The real kicker, he didn’t have any experience other than building computers from spare parts in his home. we never invited him for the interview.
    One guy we did interview showed up in sweatpants, a t-shirt, and a flannel hoodie.

    1. Development Professional*

      I’m curious – did your job posting list the requirement to lift 20 lbs and climb under desks?

      1. Bee Eye LL*

        Most IT jobs relating to desktop support do have weight lifting limits and such because we do have to lug around PC’s and especially printers, which can be crazy heavy. A lot of people don’t realize the physical requirements of the job, which can involve climbing ladders, getting up in attics to run network cables, and so on.

        1. KR*

          +1 My grandboss expects me and my boss to wear business casual – I work slacks and heels Monday and ended up on a gravel construction site and cut my feet up and got my slacks all dusty. Black/Grey jeans and sneakers for the rest of the week for meeeeeee.

          1. Bee Eye LL*

            Been there done that. At my current work we wear jeans because we so often have to crawl around over, under, and through stuff. We only dress up when doing presentations, going to class, etc.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I had to wear business casual at Exjob–and I often had to go out into the shop to fetch samples, boxes, literature, etc. I got dirty a LOT. It used to bug the crap out of me. We all would beg to wear jeans and polos, but they wouldn’t let us.

            1. Rana*

              Sounds like the retail job I had one summer as a teen. I was hired as a stockroom clerk – so lots of lifting, opening boxes, wrangling hangers, etc. – and most of the people who did that job tended to wear t-shirts and jeans, because no one ever saw them. But because I was young and female, they wanted me available to sub in with the dressing room staff, and thus be floor-presentable, which meant I was often doing that work in skirts, heels, and nylons. I ripped so many nylons that summer, it was unreal.

        2. Development Professional*

          I totally get that. I was wondering if it had been spelled out in the job posting, which I believe is required under ADA.

  20. animaniactoo*

    There was the guy who showed up to do a practice job wearing basketball shorts and an athletic top. Because he was on his way to the gym afterwards..

    We’re casual, but we’re not *that* casual… Nothing he would have seen during the first round of interviews would have given him the impression we are. It put my boss off enough that she went back to the pool to find someone else.

    1. ElectricTeapots*

      I once had a guy show up to an interview in gym clothes *post* workout. It was really easy to tell he had worked up a sweat, especially in the teeny tiny interview room…

      (This was an on-campus interview, but I’d been doing them all day and all the other students had figured out business casual just fine, so he had no excuse.)

      1. entrylevelsomething*

        When I applied for a student job as a freshman, I got a call on my phone as I was walking onto our (very small) campus. My (future) boss asked if I had time to meet up sometime that afternoon- he apologized for it being last minute, but wanted to meet me soon if I was available as he had a busy week. I had some time to come in, but cautiously noted I wasn’t dressed for an interview (ratty jeans and sweater) and wouldn’t have time to go and change. Three years later, one of the full-time workers in that school department told me that impressed my boss a lot, that I even had the self-awareness about office culture to mention that. I got the job based on a lot of things, but apparently it helped a bit. Seemed obvious to me, but I guess they’d had a few candidates who couldn’t suss it out.

  21. Rocket Scientist*

    My friend/coworker was responsible for the lunch interview and suggested to the candidate that they go to a restaurant which had excellent local cuisine. The candidate asked if they could go to a strip club instead.

    The manager of that division was female and immediately disqualified him, based solely on that.

    1. ZSD*

      Well, hey, as long as you’ve got somebody paying your way, you might as well get some perks.

      1. LD*

        Yes. My husband once left a job where some of the clients always expected to go to strip clubs on his company’s dime. When the company wouldn’t back him up, he found another job.

      2. Rocket Scientist*

        ITA.

        However that company was very “old boys’ club” and it probably wouldn’t have gone done that way.

  22. Wendy Darling*

    I was interviewing a candidate for a research job that involved wrangling research participants. I asked him to tell me about a time he’d encountered a difficult customer and how he dealt with it.

    He told me about the time he punched a guy out to stop a bar fight.

    The worst part is we hired him against my objections and later had to fire him for being belligerent and unprofessional.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I know!! I warned them!

        We were up against a time limit and he had some skills we really needed that none of the other applicants were strong with, but it turns out that’s not really relevant if the guy is bullying his teammates and being rude to research participants. He was on thin ice for a while and was then fired for basically asking his supervisor if they could take their argument outside.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Wow. I would have lorded that over my coworkers at every opportunity, forever. “Oh yeah? You think we should get coconut cake for Sue’s birthday? You also thought we should hire Bar Fight Guy. Unless you want a repeat of that, take my advice and get funfetti.”

          1. Wendy Darling*

            Unfortunately I was the biggest cheerleader for our other terrible hire in that time period, the guy who responded to our asking him to sign an NDA by emailing us a multi-page philosophical treatise about secrecy and human rights and then quitting (less than 4 hours into the job), causing scheduling chaos. So if I said “Well you thought we should hire Bar Fight Guy” they could very reasonably counter with “YOU said we should hire Too Good For NDAs Guy”. :)

  23. JustaTech*

    At a previous job I interviewed undergraduates for a part-time (no class credit) job in my lab. I had one candidate show up looking like all his clothes had come off the bottom of the laundry pile, but he was wearing a button-down so I let that slide. Then the lab manager asked “What is your greatest weakness?” and his answer was “I’m unmotivated.”
    He followed that up with “I know I’m not going to get this job because la jobs always go to Asian kids.” He was sitting with his back towards our lab, which was 50% Chinese.

    And to think we picked him to interview over the kid whose resume printed yellow-on-white!

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      He was awful, but still, no one should ever get a job with a yellow-on-white resume; it just encourages them.

      1. JustaTech*

        I begged my lab manager to be allowed to e-mail that kid and tell them to change their font, but she said it wasn’t our place to fix that kind of thing. :(

        We did get one resume that was amazing: the candidate made working at a Subway sound like an interesting, challenging job with lots of opportunities to learn and grow. I told the lab manager I didn’t care that the undergrad hadn’t taken a few classes we usually wanted, I wanted to meet this person. Sadly we were an off-campus lab and they got a better job elsewhere.

        All the undergrads we did hire were great and we kept several after they graduated. The scientists on the other hand, well, some of them were a lesson in why you should call references.

        1. Wendy Darling*

          My team at my last job didn’t used to call references because we mostly hired people for short term (less than 6 months) contracts and usually needed to hire very quickly.

          Then we hired the guy who was amazing on paper and in interviews but it turned out his entire resume was fabricated and he had none of the skills he claimed to have. Now they check references.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Weird coincidence: I went to our university caterer’s open house this afternoon, and the cater manager was going around getting people’s opinions about their new menu. She was jotting down notes in a notepad, and when she came to interview me, I could see that she was writing with a pale yellow gel pen on white paper. My AAM/real worlds are colliding.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Someone recommended this here awhile back, and I had many sleepless nights exhausting the archives. The stories are awesome!

    2. Liana*

      This is amazing. I’ve been looking for a new go-to site to add to my rotation (I’ve been feeling a bit lost since The Toast shut down), and I’ll definitely spend some time here.

  24. Ask a Manager* Post author

    By the way, I am thinking of using this slot on Thursday mornings for “ask the readers” posts — either the kind I’ve done here or “here’s a letter with no answer from me; let’s see what readers say about it.” (My schedule is a little crunched right now and I’m looking for ways to create some room in it.) Does that sound boring/annoying/horrible? Fun? Do you not care either way?

    1. SaraV*

      A) Great stories/advice to be given by commenters that usually don’t have a way to share said advice/stories
      B) Frees up time for you…

      I say this is a win-win situation.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      That sounds great! I’ve thought about sending in discussion topics before…because sometimes my questions don’t have a right answer, it’s more about getting experiences and opinions from the group.

    3. TheCupcakeCounter*

      If it is like this one I am all for it! Having the best time reading these stories!!!!

    4. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Some comment sections’ readers — no. This comment section’s readers — YES!

    5. addlady*

      You’re better off with ask the readers because otherwise you might get yourself into a position where you’re monitoring like crazy.

    6. The Optimizer*

      I like it! How about hirings gone wrong for the next one? You know, people who seemed great in an interview, got hired and immediately became an obvious mistake.

      1. TheCupcakeCounter*

        Or the worst way you have ever been told/found out you didn’t get the job. I have a great one from an internal opportunity…

    7. Biggle*

      I would really enjoy this! You have some of the best readers out of all the blogs I follow and I feel like they usually have really interesting/professional/polite different points of view things to say.

    8. LSCO*

      I think it sounds great! There’s such a great comment community on here, I’m sure there are loads of stories & nuggets of advice that everyone would be more than happy to share.

    9. Dawn*

      YESSSS! I love user stories! They’re my favorite part in the weekly open threads when someone asks for stories. LOVE THEM!!!!!

    10. LQ*

      I’m all for it!

      I don’t know if it would be more or less work but the things where you’ve had people who are regular commentators from other industries answer questions too are something I’ve enjoyed in the past. (I can see how that might be more work, but I’m not really sure.)

    11. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I like the “ask the readers” posts for sure. Can one of the topics be something like “What’s your best job experience?/Tell us about a great manager/company.”?

      I’m job hunting and while my current job is really, really awful, it’s at least an “enemy you know” type situation. Sometimes reading the letters here gives me pause and I wonder if I’ll end up somewhere worse. I know that’s just a false impression because no one writes in and says “Hey Alison, my job is great, my co-workers are great, my manager is great!” but it’d be nice to periodically hear positive experiences. (I’m sure they are some interspersed in the comments but it’d be nice to have a repository.)

      1. AndersonDarling*

        The good experience stories are a super boost to my mood. I love them! I love it when we get updates with happy endings, and I love it when the Friday Open Thread commentors have stories about finding jobs after a long stretch of unemployment.

      2. Marina*

        I was fired from a toxic job, unemployed for 5 months, terrible-but-not-as-toxic job for a year, and have just hit my 90 days in a job that pays well, with good benefits, boss and department that genuinely want to see me succeed, and tasks I am enthusiastic about. It’s possible. You can do it.

      3. ArtsNerd*

        I have the BEST boss right now, and a job that I really love. They do exist.

        But I will note that they seem to be “easier” to get when you have the luxury of waiting… potentially a couple of years… to find the right next step vs. just needing to escape a bad environment. I hopped from a terrible situation to a not-great-but-WAY-better one where my work was much more visible to my professional community, so I was able to get some good work done, build up a solid reputation and bide my time to take/make opportunities that worked out really well for me.

        I didn’t always believe it was possible, and I’m still pretty jaded about my field, but I’m so very happy with where my career is now.

    12. Just A Girl*

      I’d be a little sad: reader content is lovely, but very different from the one-letter response that usually goes in this slot. It’s more similar to the Friday open thread (which is also lovely, but a noticeable departure from actual Alison Advice).

      Would doing this on a different day– say, Tuesday– still help with the scheduling issue?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My thinking was Thursday because it’s a somewhat lower traffic day, and if new readers are coming to the site, I like them to have the best chances of seeing a post at the top that’s more typical of what’s normally here. (I have no idea if this logic is sound or not.)

    13. Graciosa*

      Either option is fine with me.

      Do not underestimate how much we enjoy and appreciate what you do.

      The corollary is that we are happy to accept adjustments that allow you to keep doing it. ;-)

    14. AnonEMoose*

      But…but…how will I possibly find time to read all the awesome comments? I mean, when I’m at work, I actually have to work!

      (Seriously, I think this is a really interesting idea, and I’d like to see it tried.)

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I love it when you do that. I know there will be lots of interesting comments to read! My favorites are the ones like this, where we get to tell stories. :D

    16. Jack the Treacle Eater*

      Ask the readers. ‘No answer from me’ risks partial viewpoints, pile ons, you having to spend the time monitoring anyway, letter writer dissatisfaction at not getting the AAM viewpoint. Nothing against posters here who are usually calm, objective and there’s enough to get all viewpoints, but sometimes there can be a hive mind sort of thing.

      1. OhNo*

        I agree. As awesome as the comments section is here, I think having letters with just reader responses might lead to some issues. I’m also thinking that someone would write in and be disappointed because they didn’t get a response from Alison, just us random readers.

        Perhaps you could offer people who write in the option, though? If they note that their letter is okay for comment-only response, that might preemptively solve the problem!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think if it’s between that and no response at all (because most letters don’t actually get answered here, just due to volume), people will be fine with it but who knows…

    17. Lee*

      I think there’s a feminist slant from some of the primary commentators on here that skews an objective opinion on submitted questions.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But there is a feminist slant from me too (just as I also have a non-racist slant, I hope). I mean, I hope no one would ever say “that Ask a Manager blog, she really doesn’t believe that women have the same value as men.”

          1. Lee*

            My initial thought was to say you don’t appear to have agenda when replying to letters, and I believe some commenters do have an agenda that bleeds through into their answers.

            1. N.J.*

              That’s what makes this commenting community so valuable thought, the diversity of agendas, or to word it in a more positive way-the diversity of beliefs, opinions and life experiences that inform and shape how the commenters here may interpret a question or issue. It can be uncomfortable to face strong opinions, sure, but an “agenda” that includes equality for women is never a bad thing. I’m assuming you are identifying a certain type of commenter who always identifies the (insert cause) spin or slant on a situation, such as feminism. I would argue though that there is great value in hearing from our commenters with agendas, even strong ones, if for no other reason than that we can debate if that person’s particular viewpoint is applicable to a question or issue. Feminism is not a dirty word, ever. It is uncomfortable for a lot of people to be prompted, willingly or not, to evaluate a situation with so many different lenses (feminist lense, anti-racism lense, generational lense etc.) because it removes the safety of a straightforward answer and destroys the idea that there is one set of rules that we can all apply to life and the working world, but that limits our ability to combat issues and biases and our ability to even see them.

              Bring on the agendas, ESPECIALLY the feminist ones!

              1. Lee*

                I didn’t actually think of things that way, but I do agree with you and would never want to discourage the diversity of thoughts here (and I like the idea of folks debating different view points).

            2. Anon Moose*

              By that you mean… some of the commenters may have a different perspective on workplace issues than you, very possibly due to their experiences and background, which may include factors like age, race and gender? Is that not the point of a comment section, to have differing viewpoints?
              I’d be interested particularly in any specific examples of said feminist bias. What precisely do you feel is objectionable?

              1. Lee*

                One of the issues is the term “mansplaining” used on this site. I feel this term broadly paints females as generally always in the right and any male that disagrees is wrong or talking down. I think this term derails the idea of feminism specifically, as it implies female superiority over males, not equality.
                I understand historically males have been dominant in the workplace and females were talked down to. That landscape is significantly changing (more women are working now than men, graduating college and becoming CEOs).
                Alison’s defense of this term, and the subsequent commentators relaying their experiences that inevitably end with a male talking down to a female started to feel biased. Do we just ignore situations when women talk down to other women? When women belittle men? Are we going to create a cutesy pun about it?
                The word ‘patronizing’ already exists, and while its rooted in the problems of patriarchal leadership, at least it can apply to both men and women. “Mansplaining” is a sexist term that, in my opinion, alienates the male commenters of this site and discourages anyone who disagreed.

                1. The Butcher of Luverne*

                  I think this term derails the idea of feminism specifically, as it implies female superiority over males, not equality.
                  ……

                  On the contrary. It implies that the man in question is condescending and belittling a woman. That is actually (supposed) male superiority over females.

                2. Lee*

                  @The Butcher of Luverne
                  “It implies that the man in question is condescending and belittling a woman. That is actually (supposed) male superiority over females.”
                  A male being condescending and belittling a female, when the female knows more than the male or is in the right, does not imply (supposed) male superiority. It implies arrogance on the males part and is a very negative term. I’m sure instances where men incorrectly and condescendingly belittle women occurs. As does instances where women belittle other women, women who belittle men, or men who belittle other men.
                  However, in my opinion, supporting this gender-specific term paints men in a very broad unflattering light, and will turn off most male readers.
                  There are plenty of other verbs to use in the English language. I don’t understand what you’re arguing exactly.

                3. Serafina*

                  “Mansplaining” is a method of calling out sexist behavior. Referring to sexist behavior by males towards females as “mansplaining” is not sexist anymore than calling out anti-black behavior by whites is racist. This is not part of a “feminist agenda” in a respect that is in any way inappropriate – mansplaining is a sexist behavior that can and should be called out and eliminated. The fact that YOUR agenda is so clearly to halt discussion of it merely marks you as part of the sexist silencing agenda that so many women have to struggle against to be taken seriously and treated with equal respect alongside male colleagues and by male colleagues.

                  As for Alison, I do hope she doesn’t back down from permitting open discussion of sexist behavior in the workplace, including practices like mansplaining, as they are legitimate and recognizable demeaning acts by male colleagues towards female colleagues.

        1. HDB*

          Such a good answer! Your “feminist slant” is a big part of why I respect your advice and enjoy your writing.

      2. Mookie*

        Advice columns don’t exist to be “objective.” Letter-writers are specifically and explicitly requesting informed feedback, and being informed requires experience and judgement.

        1. Mookie*

          Also, “objective opinion” on this topic–human behavior, decorum and custom, law regarding employment and labor–is an oxymoron.

    18. junipergreen*

      Yes! I come here primarily for your advice, but I also love the community you’ve built here and love hearing what other readers have to say.

    19. GiantPanda*

      Sounds like a great idea, but does it have to be Thursday? With the big Open threads on Friday and Saturday I’d prefer a short break somewhere.

    20. Mimmy*

      It’s a lot to read because the number of comments shoots up early, but I know many readers enjoy these type of threads – some of the stories they generate can be downright funny!

      My favorite, though, was the thread where you asked readers to describe their job, then answer questions from others.

    21. Snargulfuss*

      Yes! I LOVE these posts!

      For what they’re worth, here are a few ideas:
      – How about one on how people transition from one career to another, especially without quitting their current job to go back to school. How do you put a new skill into practice when it’s not part of your current job.
      – Best (aka worst) office Halloween costumes and antics
      – Best and worst boss stories
      – Dream jobs (I think there was a long thread on this in one of the Friday posts and it was really fun)
      – What did you think was most important about a job when you first started out vs. what’s most important to you now

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        – How about one on how people transition from one career to another, especially without quitting their current job to go back to school. How do you put a new skill into practice when it’s not part of your current job.

        I like this topic idea. I’d also like to see a redo of the post your job and salary thread where people stated how much they made when they first started in their professional careers and where they ended up. I’m thinking of making another career change soon, so it would be interesting to see what jobs pay what.

      2. Mimmy*

        Similar to the first idea: Readers who are undecided on their career path could post brief details–e.g. interests, skills, past experience–and others can offer suggestions. It’s something I’ve been struggling with, but I think those just starting out in the workforce, such as those about to graduate college, may benefit as well.

    22. vpc*

      Fun!

      Possible topic: malapropisms.

      I was in a training class this week where the presenter was soliciting answers from participants and at one point got herself tangled up and uttered the line, “….self pleasure, yep, that’s the first thing you stop doing.”

      I know we’ve all had that foot-in-mouth moment, either ourselves or cringing on others’ behalf! must be some great stories out there.

  25. Jake*

    I was interviewing a batch of candidates for an administrative assistant position with a duration of roughly 10 months to a year at an hourly rate towards the bottom of market rate with basically no benefits.

    Throughout the process, I was very very open about my max salary and benefits starting with the end of each phone screen. There was 0 chance I could exceed the salary without being fired, as I tried several times on a hire for the same position in the same location 6 months earlier, and was not successful.

    At the end of one of my in person interviews the candidate started asking about benefits, and I restated the salary.

    She broke down rambling and crying, saying things like, “I know you can afford more” and “you don’t know what it’s like working around a bunch of caddy women as a temp.”

    As I tried to defuse the situation by saying, I understand but I have no flexibility, she snapped and went on a rant about greedy businesses only care about profit, and our business can clearly afford more, etc.

    After 5 minutes of this rant I escorted her out. I dodged a bullet because prior to the freak out she would have been under consideration.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          From Jake’s spelling, if it was actually “caddy” and not “catty”, I would have guessed it was shorthand for “people who can afford Cadillacs”.

    1. Dan*

      While I’m not sure I’m on board with her delivery, I’m certainly onboard with the sentiment. Bottom end of market rate plus no benefits screams CHEAP employer. I hate to say it, but I think a lot of people dodged bullets with this one.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But she knew it before she came in for the interview. It’s not like it came as a surprise.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          YES. I’ve had someone give me the hard salary cap on the first phone screen because it was so low for the position and location, and I was able to withdraw from consideration on good terms. End of a boring, drama-free story.

  26. Development Professional*

    I may have told this story here before, but….

    We had an out of town candidate for a high level position who had done reasonably well in a phone interview. We invited him for a second round in person, but explained that we didn’t have the funds to pay his travel expenses (this was a teeny tiny nonprofit, and we were hiring for only the second paid staff position). He agreed on a Thursday to come in on two Mondays later – i.e. 10 days later. We scheduled a panel of 6 board and staff members to interview him.

    The Sunday night before his scheduled interview, he emails my colleague who had set it up, complaining that plan tickets were too expensive, and could he just interview by Skype instead? Why he didn’t already have a plane ticket in hand, since it had been 10 days since it was scheduled, I have no idea. We declined, saying that at this stage and for an executive, we really needed to meet in person. He became irate, saying that we should really be more flexible for him, since he was coming from another industry and basically we should be lucky that he was even considering us. We held firm, and he sent yet another email back, still claiming that we were being unreasonable. That was the end of his candidacy.

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      Airline ticket prices do fluctuate daily and he may have been watching them via a website hoping to see a deal pop up and it just never happened. I know you can write off job search expenses on taxes, so there are ways to offset it. However this is one of the burdens of looking for out of town jobs – there’s an expense involved.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Just about every travel site claims it happens, but from what I’ve seen you would never, ever get such a big discount from buying last minute that it’d actually be worth the risk of more commonly paying hundreds more for a longer itinerary.

        Granted, I fly a lot of domestic giant hub to giant hubs (sometimes with a regional at the front end, but same point applies if you’ll be stuck laying over for a hub to hub no matter what).

        If you’re flying to Japan outside of spring and summer or something, then sure, maybe that happens sometimes.

    2. Dan*

      I had a company tell me to book my interview ticket and they’d pay me back… except the ticket was $1600. I was worried they thought I was trying to rip them off or something, but they reimbursed it without a hassle. I got an offer, too.

      I get you work for a non-profit, but you guys won’t cover travel expenses for *executive* level hires? While I disagree with his delivery, I think his sentiment is more or less accurate. I work for a non-profit, and every out of town interview I’ve ever had, the employer has covered the travel expenses. I’m so used to having my expenses paid that if someone told me I had to pay them myself, I’d pass.

      1. Development Professional*

        I’ve had it go both ways at various nonprofits of various sizes, but in this case, the org’s entire yearly budget was $250K, and the job paid $40K a year with no benefits. This was explicitly stated in the job posting AND we confirmed that he understood it and was ok with both salary and the lack of reimbursement during the phone interview AND when setting up the second interview. He was free to decline politely at any of those junctures. Frankly, our pool of local candidates was at least as good as this one out of towner (if not better), and we had no trouble making the hire locally.

      2. Observer*

        Paying for an out of town hire to travel is not a universal practice. Especially for a really small place that has very few staff, it’s not unreasonable to not pay. As long as an organization is up front about it, I see no problem.

        If that’s something that’s a deal breaker, that’s fine. But you do NOT get to change your mind about this the day before your interview. This is not about delivery, this is about reneging on an agreement.

        1. Dan*

          Actually, you *do* get to change your mind about it the day before you interview. You just shouldn’t assume they’ll continue the process with you.

          1. Observer*

            Well, you get to change your mind. Because it’s a free country. But, it’s not a delivery problem. It’s a either a problem with keeping commitments or with thinking through what you are committing to. And neither is much good for an employer.

  27. Cafe au Lait*

    I worked at a community college library as a circulation manager. One applicant was rather pushy; “checking in” on the status of her application every time she came to study and the like. What really made me headtilt was when I was walking from one building to another, and saw the applicant back-up to the corner of a building and start moving up and down. Like a bear backs up to a tree to satisfy an itch.

    She saw me as she was doing this, and called out “Hey, YOU, Library Lady. Did you get my application? Am I getting an interview?”

    I mentioned her to my coworker later that afternoon. His response was: “There is no fucking way she’s getting an interview.”

    Apparently the applicant had threatened my coworker with a pistol when he worked at a payday advance service, and he came to her house to collect her loan.

      1. Dan*

        Well… it’s generally not within the norm to have a bill collector show up personally. I may very well do the same thing. There’s a process to collect (or not) on delinquent debt, and in person visits aren’t part of the deal. In fact, it’s quite possible that the woman could have sued the company and won.

        The only exception, AFAIK, is a repo man informing you that the property has been seized.

        1. Cafe au Lait*

          I didn’t think that payday lenders showed up in person either. I guess my coworker did quite a few house calls during his time there.

          He also said it was a very crappy, horrible place to work.

          1. Cafe au Lait*

            Oh, it also sounds like there were several tiers of contact.

            Tier 1: You show up in person to pay off, or pay off a portion of your loan.
            Tier 2: If you stop paying your loan, the company moves on to phone calls.
            Tier 3: After several instances of “no contact”, the company moved onto showing up to your house in person.

        1. OhNo*

          In person bill collection or not, I’m definitely more weirded out by the fact that she drew a gun on them. That certainly wouldn’t be my first instinct if a collection agent showed up at my door.

          (Running and hiding might be, though. Clearly my fight-or-flight response leans pretty heavily in one direction.)

    1. LBK*

      Apparently the applicant had threatened my coworker with a pistol when he worked at a payday advance service, and he came to her house to collect her loan.

      Uhhhh what!?!

      1. Isabel*

        I am interested in hearing more about your coworker. Bill collecting thug to librarian? The intrigue!

    2. Mookie*

      Everybody’s focusing on the gun and the loan, but I want to give the Baloo impersonation some love.

      1. Mander*

        I can totally see myself doing that, because itchy back sucks. But I wouldn’t shout out to ask if you got my application.

  28. C N B*

    I worked at a very small non-profit with only about 8-10 employees, several of them part-time. We desperately needed an IT person as the internet exploded upon us about 15 years ago. During a group interview of a young, techie, candidate, the ED asked him “how would your current supervisor describe you – in a couple of words?”

    His answer: ” oh, I guess, ‘loose cannon’ ” – didn’t get the job…

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      Hahah I once had a guy apply where he came from a small office and was the only IT guy. During the interview he actually told us he loves working by himself because he doesn’t get along well with others and then admitted to getting into arguments with “the last IT guy” they had there. He didn’t get hired, either.

    2. SJ*

      I’m sure he didn’t say it like this, but I’m picturing him saying “loose cannon,” winking, and doing finger guns.

        1. LBK*

          This is even funnier now having read Jamie’s story below where a guy actually did do finger guns and wink during an interview.

      1. Jamie*

        doing finger guns

        That’s the phrase I was looking for! Thank you, it was making my brain itchy.

    3. Guam Mom*

      To that very same question, I once had a candidate respond, “She always says I am a bull in a china shop… I don’t know what that means but it has to be good because she is always smiling when she says it!”

      Nope, nope, nope.

  29. Dip-lo-mat*

    Waaaaay back when I was a paralegal, my boss received a resume in triplicate–one copy in English, one in French, and one in Japanese. Also, the person’s name was in shadowed text.

    Into the trash can it went.

    1. FD*

      While being trilingual could be a useful skill on your resume, I feel like this isn’t quite the way to show it.

    2. Miaw*

      I think it depend on the industry, but I would have been impressed if I received a resume in 3 different languages. To give a bit of background, we deal with global clients who do not necessarily speak English, so foreign language skills are asset.

      1. Lemon Zinger*

        Yes! Though it would have made more sense to just hand in the resume in the language used by the organization, and to indicate there that he spoke French and Japanese.

        1. Dip-lo-mat*

          Yes. It would have. Even in my current foreign affairs agency (see me username), this is, by far, the only acceptable method unless otherwise specifically asked.

        2. Gaara*

          My practice involves international litigation, and certain language skills are very valuable. I agree that way would be better, but I certainly wouldn’t have thrown that in the trash.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          Exactly. I can technically write my resume in French, but I’m not going to do that unless I’m applying to a French company for a French-speaking position, or the company explicitly asked me to.

    3. Apparatchic*

      I don’t get this one. Sure, it’s overboard, but just the name in shadowed text and different languages doesn’t seem like instant trash-canning to me?

      1. Dip-lo-mat*

        Well, we were a corporate insurance law firm. No request for language and read as obnoxiously show-off-y. What my boss cared about was your ability to be super organized, meet deadlines, deal with difficult clients/opposing counsel/etc. What the overachievers fresh out of fancy schools wanted to show him was that they were so so so smart.

        On the shadowed text, think the text that looks like it’s casting a shadow on the floor. If someone handed you a resume in comic sans or a font that conveys similar gravitas for a position in a corporate law firm, would you seriously consider it?

      1. Nanani*

        If so, it would be really obvious from the formatting.
        Japanese resume conventions are VERY different from Western ones, so if the Japanese resume is formatted the same way as the other two, that immediately tells you this person is clueless – either about work standards in Japanese culture (if all are formatted Western style) or Western ones (if all are Japanese style).
        Legitimately including all languages for a position that requires them necessarily involves adapting your materials to the applicable cultures.

        1. Julia*

          I was in such a bind when I applied for my current Japanese job and they demanded a resume, in English or Japanese. If I only sent in an English resume, would I have to include information the Japanese want, but that are no-nos in the US? Which format? I think in the end, I did a compromise of both.

          1. Nanani*

            Oh god yes, those mandatory fields of Japanese resumes that are awkward to illegal in other countries gave me serious discomfort!
            I have been getting away without the headshot, but including the rest.

            *For the curious, standard Japanese resumes, for which you can buy an actual paper template, include: A headshot of the applicant in a suit, date of birth, current age at application time, marital status, number of dependents, and place of birth in addition to the things you’d expect elsewhere like work history and relevant experience.

    4. Karo*

      The only time I can see this making sense is if you were in someplace like Montreal, where you have to be proficient in French and English, and are also working for a client that requires you to speak Japanese. And all of this is stated clearly in the ad.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Even then, I’d save that gimmick for the cover letter. It’s actually a good idea there, as it provides an example of your ability to write (and properly localize) correspondence!

        That’s particularly important for French – you wouldn’t want to close a formal French letter with a literal translation for “Sincerely”, nor would you want an English letter to close with the line “Please accept, Mr. Stark, the expression of my highest regards.”

        1. Marillenbaum*

          This is giving me flashbacks to Mme. Cali’s Professional French class: three-and-a-half hours, complete with fifteen-minute smoke break midway.

        2. Mephyle*

          Or Spanish– in Mexico, one of the commonest polite ways to close a formal letter is “Since I have nothing more to say now, I bid you farewell with warmest regards.” I am not making this up.

    5. Nanani*

      I have sent the triplicate resume in those exact languages.
      However:
      1) It was email (or attachment uploaded to a webform asking for them)
      2) I’m a translator :)

  30. all aboard the anon train*

    I had a candidate come in for an editorial assistant position and state that she had a master’s degree in creative writing so working instead of writing was beneath her and that she really just wanted to talk to someone about getting her manuscript published. For one thing, I’m an editor, not a book agent. For another, she kept acting like her degree meant she was guaranteed to get published, and in my experience a creative writing degree does not add any weight to whether or not someone’s manuscript even gets looked at (let alone whether that person can even write).

    She kept beginning every sentence with, “I’m a writer, so….” or “Because I have a creative writing degree”, and once it became clear she wasn’t interested in the job, I told her to get out and that no one would be looking at her manuscript. Last I heard, the recruiter sent her name to our agents and told them to blacklist her and trash any submissions she sent in. Publishing in a pretty small industry, so I’m sure word got around to the other houses.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Hahaha. Did you literally stand up, hold open the door, and say “Get out”?

      1. some1*

        Yeah, I’d be interested to hear from Alison or anyone else to see if they ever decided to end an interview and how they did it.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I have. I had a guy who was making some pretty sexist comments and kept ignoring the fact that I was the department head to be “buddy” with my male lead designer.

          We were about 15 minutes into our hour slot and instead of asking additional questions, I said “Well, that’s it on our end. Do you have any questions for us?”

          Looking back, I wish I had not offered him the opportunity to ask questions. Not that he asked anything bad, in fact, he asked the standard questions, and we were done in less than 25 minutes total. But I don’t know if he understood I cut the interview short, or if he just thought we were quick interviewers.

          1. Dan*

            TBH, he might have chalked it up to “efficient” interviewing. Even then, while he may very just assumed you learned everything you needed in 15 minutes (some interviewers are more efficient than others) he probably didn’t recognize that you had enough to reject him.

            1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

              Yeah, I always figured he walked away with no understanding of what actually happened.

              I’m often told I’m too polite for my own good.

        2. Collarbone High*

          Late to the party, but I once ended an interview after three questions.

          I asked the candidate to clarify something on his resume; he told me that if I had been paying attention, I would know the answer. It turned out the confusion stemmed from the fact his resume contained several major errors. (He was applying for a copy editing job.) When I pointed that out, he said, “Oh yeah, my wife mentioned that too. I told her to fix it, I guess she didn’t.”

          I stood up and said that the interview was over. He asked why, so I took 30 seconds to explain that I would not hire an editor who submitted a resume knowing it contained errors and blamed someone else for his carelessness. Then I walked out. (Not helping his case: he addressed all his comments to the only man in the room, who wasn’t the hiring manager, and the comment about his wife was said as though she was an incompetent secretary.)

        3. Formica Dinette*

          I once sat in on an interview where they guy answered his phone twice–once just as we were sitting down and again a few minutes later. After he hung up from the second call, my colleague ended the interview.

      2. all aboard the anon train*

        No standing up and holding open the door, but I did tell her that she wasted everyone’s time and that the interview was over. Then I escorted her to the receptionists desk to make sure she didn’t try to hand off her manuscript or badger anyone else in the office.

    2. shep*

      I have an MFA in creative writing and I would LOVE an editorial assistant position. I wonder what program she came from. Also what planet. MFA does not a publishing deal make, and the fact that she didn’t understand this at all is INSANE.

      1. shep*

        (Also I wonder how she was surviving financially as an MFA holder. I remained underemployed during and for a year and a half after my degree program, had to liquidate my savings, and jumped desperately out of the sinking ship that was my then-job into an only mildly more sound lifeboat. To beat the metaphor a little more, I’m on dry land in modest paradise now! But in my experience, an MFA just makes you overqualified and unhireable for almost everything unless someone takes a chance on you (which my now-supervisor did). Or you manage to break in with a coveted publishing position, which she totally botched.)

        1. all aboard the anon train*

          Based on her background and the prep school and undergrad university she went to, it looked like she came from money. Her resume listed a lot of “writing excursions” she took overseas (I asked about this out of curiosity because I thought maybe it was related to school, but turns out she just took her school vacations to go write in Europe, so). Some of the things she said during our very short interview led me to assume she was one of those lucky few who went into writing because she had someone financially backing her dream to be an artist.

          To be honest, I really don’t think MFAs even help someone break into the publishing industry. Most of my colleagues – myself included – have degrees in other subjects. But I think a lot of people misunderstand the publishing industry. I wouldn’t say it’s a great place for people looking to use their creative degrees, unfortunately. It’s pretty much quashed my own desire to read or write fiction for the foreseeable future.

          1. shep*

            My program is one of those rare MFA schools that has some sway in the children’s/young adult lit community with agents, so I’m lucky in that respect, but certainly would never bank on it to (1) get me published or (2) a position in publishing.

            Just, wow re: that applicant, though. I wish I had the financial resources to be half that entitled! (J/K. Mostly.) Good for you for shutting the situation down swiftly and with no room for her to badger you further!

              1. shep*

                Also to be clear: While it was difficult to find a job during and after my program, and while graduate expenses are nothing to shrug at, I LOVED LOVED LOVED my MFA experience there and wouldn’t change it for the world. I’d go into debt and do it all over again.

        1. shep*

          Seriously! I almost wonder if she knew, though, and thought “Oh but I don’t have to do that because MFA.”

          Tangentially, I spent several months as a remote agent intern dealing with slush and it was an INVALUABLE learning experience re: queries. I learned (1) mine were not NEARLY as abysmal as I feared and (2) how to finesse already decent query material to stand out more.

          Of course, I still struggle with queries. But at least I don’t demand my interviewers read my manuscript! :)

            1. shep*

              Oh my goodness, YES. Definitely some crazy folks. And people who clearly just blanket-queried ANY agent, regardless of market and genre the agent actually represented. The amount of picture book queries we got was dumbfounding.

              I did feel bad for some people, though, because it was clear they’d done their research and put together a query and the appropriate amount of requested sample pages in industry format, but the writing was just. not. there.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I was starting to worry about the latter myself, but someone asked for pages the other day, based on a query with a synopsis and the first ten. (!!!!!!!!) Maybe I don’t suck as badly as I thought…..

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          I know! I had to take my name off my alma mater’s alumni list because I received so many emails from people asking me to look at their manuscripts. I still get messages every once in awhile on LinkedIn. That is not how you query a manuscript – especially to someone who is not a book agent and has no say in manuscripts that get accepted. Ugh.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’ve been trying to get off my alma mater’s list because I don’t have any money to give them and I don’t read the little magazine. As for manuscripts, writers get that too. I wrote a blog post stating that I won’t read unpubs. I’ve traded off with other writers, but it’s usually people I know, and I make beta readers e-sign an agreement first, just to protect both of us.

            Preston and Child have the same disclaimer in their FAQs on their website–they don’t read them and can’t help you get published. (I’d much rather they spent their time writing new Pendergast books, anyway!)

  31. Kay*

    We had an applicant for a part-time basic customer service position whose experience (in journalism, somewhat relevant for this position) was way back in her past because she had been caring for an ill family member. Which was fine! Except she said that in the last six months, she had taken a job at Burger King to have some additional income, and that she was using that position to refresh her journalism skills. She went on and on in her cover letter about how we would not believe the horrible things that were happening at this particular Burger King, and that she had prepared dozens of pages of expose documents using her journalism skills that she was planning to pitch to local newspapers. This was all presented as great relevant experience for the position. NOPE.

    Another person for that same job stated that he had moved to our area (quite rural and small town) to be together with his girlfriend of two months, and that since he was so in love, his relationship and now his life were clearly blessed by a higher power. Therefore, we should hire him because the positive energy of his life could only enhance our workplace. ALSO NOPE.

  32. KE*

    I had a candidate apply to be both CEO and executive assistant to the CEO. Immediately rejected for both.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Dwight Shrute! Because the only person he can trust to be his assistant is himself.

    2. ZSD*

      Did the application indicate that they knew what an executive assistant did? Maybe they thought it was like being the vice-CEO.

      1. KE*

        The posting had a very thorough description that included things like “take meeting minutes,” “handle email correspondence,” “manage calendar,” etc. There was no cover letter, and their experience was all lower level AP/AR– not anything that met the minimum qualifications for a CEO, assistant CEO, or executive assistant position.

      2. LD*

        That reminds me of a former employer where the “executive assistants” were administrative/secretarial assistants to the executives. They kept bringing up salary ranges for the “vice-CEO”/”CEO in training” type of executive assistants, as evidence that they were underpaid and they never did seem to understand the difference.

        1. LBK*

          Is there a type of executive assistant that isn’t an administrative assistant to an executive? I wasn’t aware that term had any other meaning.

    3. Rincat*

      Maybe they thought executive assistant was more like Assistant CEO? Not Assistant TO the CEO…

      1. Anon Moose*

        Ha, that reminds me of the West Wing. The assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff tried to joke “well I guess that sort of makes me Deputy Deputy Chief of Staff.”

  33. AGirlWhoGames*

    I’ve been a Tech Writer for 8 years. I work in software. Our clients are mostly in the DoD. I’m a young-looking (strike 1) woman (strike 2) with no military background (strike 3). Interviewing job candidates can be an interesting experience.

    My personal worst candidate was the gentleman who a) spent most of the interview interrupting my questions to explain what I actually meant to ask him, b) went off on tangents several times and resisted all attempts to pull him back on topic, and c) explained that since he had been in the industry longer than I had been alive, he would be able to fix all of our department’s issues (without ever asking if we had issues or what said issues might be).

    I brought the interview to an abrupt end after 11 minutes and 34 seconds. (We started precisely at 10:30 a.m. so I could do the math when I walked out.) I immediately went to the hiring manager – my boss – and said, “You’ll have to open a job rec for my position if we hire this guy.” My manager walked in, told the gentleman that he would obviously be a poor cultural match, and escorted him out. Three rant-y e-mails to the in-house recruiter later and he was permanently added to the “file in the trashcan” list.

    (I have an excellent manager who understands the BS I have to deal with in this industry and who has absolute confidence in my work and my judgement. He knew that if I skipped professionalism about a job candidate to the extent that I did, the candidate had to be horrific.)

      1. AGirlWhoGames*

        I know I’m lucky. As does my company – my productivity numbers went up 15% under this manager.

    1. Polka Dot Bird*

      He mansplained what questions you were trying to interview him with?! Hahahaha nooooooo.

      1. AGirlWhoGames*

        It was pretty awful. I deal with a lot of mansplaining in this industry and can usually gracefully side-step it, but I was stunned for it to happen to me *in an interview*!

  34. Anon for this*

    Have I got a DOOZIE for you!

    * Boasted about making up words (for a technical writing position!)
    * Grabbed the resume out of an interviewer’s hands (didn’t bring a personal copy).
    * Had no idea what was on his resume (hence the above).
    * Answered “I can’t remember what I did there, it was so long ago” to most questions.
    * Resume was badly formatted, hard to read, and chock full of typos and inaccuracies. (Again, for a writing position.)
    * The answer to ‘best accomplishment’ question: employees thew him a surprise birthday party. I…what?

    No, we did not hire this person.

    1. AGirlWhoGames*

      ARGH! I am a Tech Writer, and we often get candidate resumes and phone screens that make me wonder why the person would ever think of applying for a writing position! I actually had a candidate once who said, “Well, it’s just writing. It’s not that hard.” I…you…I…!!! (We did not hire that person.)

      1. EddieSherbert*

        PET PEEVE. At LastJob, my manager’s manager told us regularly that “it’s just writing. Anyone can write. Why do you need this much time to do XYZ?” He also made up his “own” title capitalization rules because he didn’t like any of the existing ones.

        Hence, my not being there anymore.

        1. LD*

          UGH! I have a similar story from my time in corporate communications, only the “easy” job was creating corporate videos. My new boss to me (video producer) and the artist (corporate branding, art for all employee promotions, signs, corporate magazine, etc.) “Your jobs aren’t so hard. Anyone can do what you do.”

          1. jj*

            I’m just chiming in here as another corporate video producer…solidarity, my friend. There are days when I want to tell people “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible as I left my magic wand at home today.” ARGH.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          He also made up his “own” title capitalization rules because he didn’t like any of the existing ones.
          This gives me an eye twitch. At a previous job, the VP wanted the marketing dude to have a sign made. She would not budge on how it should look. This is what he had to order:

          Welcome To The Best Widget Company In The World!

      2. Revolver Rani*

        I had one like that in an interview some years ago (also a tech writer). I asked, “what do you think would be challenging for you about this job?” And she answered, “I don’t think it would be challenging.”

      3. Sans*

        “It’s just writing. It’s not that hard.”

        That is the WORST thing you could ever say to a writer.

        Smoke is coming out of my ears.

        1. AGirlWhoGames*

          I have had to justify my job’s existence at previous companies on a fairly regular basis as a result of the “anyone can write” attitude. I tend to grab a random e-mail from a software developer explaining bug fix, point to it, and say, “so then, you [HR/Project Manager/Contracts Manager/Sales] would be comfortable sending this information, as written, to a non-technical audience that regularly asks us what an IP address is?” That usually stops the question for another 3 months or so.

      1. Anon for this*

        Despite his resume flaws, his skills looked promising and useful to the team. But in the interview, he just crashed and burned.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I am always so surprised when I get resumes and cover letters with **glaring** errors in them for a writer position!

    3. Feline*

      What is it with people applying for tech writing positions? We had an applicant make it to the peer interview with the team he would be working with. We were an all-female team at the time, and the applicant was male.

      One of us asked about why he had left journalism for tech writing, and he explained he had been on the sports beat, covering a speedboat race when a boat flipped over. You could see everyone but him shifting in our chairs, but he continued to describe how the driver died right in front of him. So he didn’t want to be a journalist any more.

      You could hear a pin drop, only because our team are professional enough not to cry during an interview.

      I understand that it’s good to tell memorable, illustrative stories during an interview rather than give one-line answers, but don’t tell stories that traumatize your interviewers.

      1. ElCee*

        When you’re one of the many ex-journos out there, you have to start somewhere, so I’m not sure why it’s a problem when they look at the tech writing field.

      2. Blue Dog*

        I really don’t see anything wrong with his answer, though. He wanted to use his writing skills in job where he wouldn’t be called upon to witness and write about death. Seems reasonable. Maybe I’m cold but I don’t get why hearing about a stranger dying in a boat crash would make you cry.

        1. Triceratops*

          It sounds like he went into detail, though. A more appropriate version of that answer would be, “I witnessed a fatal accident on assignment and realized that I don’t want to be in that position again” or something.

        2. BusSys*

          I’m with Blue Dog. While I empathize that the story is tragic and unexpected, I think him being full on honest about the incident and his “please never again” reaction makes him very normal human. Especially considering that it was probably recent if yours was the first job following that.

        3. Super awesome fun times*

          Reminds me of a civics teacher I had in high school, who explained that he had left his last career as a journalist because he was covering a suicide, was on the scene, and piece of brain matter that had been missed in clean up dropped from the ceiling into his notebook. Horrifying.

      3. JMegan*

        Ouch! Definitely TMI for the situation – there’s truth, and then there’s oversharing!

    4. Grumpy*

      “No, we did not hire this person.”

      Ug, I think we did… I’ve named him Unbearable CoWorker.

  35. Not Karen*

    Not particularly egregious, but:

    At LastJob they had current employees at the level for which they were hiring go out to lunch with the candidate to share personal experience at the job. Obviously this was also a test to see if candidates dropped their guard once they were no longer talking to “actual” interviewers. We had one candidate who started the lunch with, “Tell me everything I need to know” and asked about potentially normal things, like the dress code and flexible schedule, with an annoyed groan, e.g., “Do you have to dress [in business attire] all the time??”

  36. Mallory Janis Ian*

    We interviewed an internal applicant for a position that would be a stretch for her but that she had been doing a small part of until it was filled.

    She had been going around telling everyone that she was a shoe-in because she had been “doing the job for six months”. Then we got a phone call from a professional organization that she is in, telling us that she was bragging to everyone there that she already had the job in the bag, and it was upsetting other members of the organization who had also applied for the job. And then, in the interview, when we asked if she had any questions for us, she said, “No; I already know everything about it.”

    She did not know everything about the job! The only part of the job that she was filling in for was managing the dean’s calendar, screening his calls, and filing his travel and expense reports. There was so much more to the job than that, but she thought she had reached the pinnacle of knowledge about the position through performing those tasks.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        She didn’t get the job, and she sulked for several days and gave the successful applicant the cold shoulder for about a week after she started working. Then one morning she came in with a spring in her step and a twinkle in her eye and was simply over it.

        I think she had to mourn her loss, and she didn’t have the maturity to do it discreetly, but once it was out of her system, she was fine. She was offered a lower-level promotion soon after all that, from receptionist to assisting a department head, and that helped to sooth her bruised ego.

    1. some1*

      I think this is a really common mistake people make – when you are filling in for a vacant position, you’re usually doing the absolute bare minimum.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        I was on a hiring committee for a person who was serving as an interim director and asked why she was interested in the role. Her answer was something akin to “I have enjoyed mastering the director duties assigned to me, and I look forward to learning all the facets of this role.”

        It was a great answer that was very self aware!

  37. AnonyMiss*

    There are two who stand out. Neither of them were bad per se, just really, really weird and out of touch.

    Number one, law clerk applicant, prosecutor’s office. She sent her resume, cover letter, and official-but-opened (??) transcripts by overnight FedEx. I pull out the goods. The cover letter was one paragraph. A full-page-length, singular paragraph, with even the salutation and signature within the bounds of said paragraph. Kind of like this:

    “Dear Daenerys Targaryen District Attorney, My name is Valentina Warbleworth and I’m applying to be a law clerk with your office. Attached is my resume and transcripts. I want to be a prosecutor because [blah blah blah]. Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you. God Bless, Valentina Warbleworth.”

    I’m barely-religious, but I’m used to some Serious Christians, so the God Bless made me wince a lot less than the page-a-graph or the oddly-formatted salutation (District Attorney Daenerys Targaryen, maybe? Or just Daenerys Targaryen, Ms. Targaryen, District Attorney of Essos, or anything?). Ooookay, let’s look at the resume. It looked like she found the most colorful, most garish template… to which she added her high school prom portrait in the header. Full-length, no less. Resume listed a lot of church-related volunteering, including missionary work, but no achievements, only duties – each of which was framed within a Bible quote.

    To top this all, the phone number she had listed was dead, and so was the email, which is worth a word on its own. It was [SexyFictitiousMaleAntihero]girlfriend@aol.com. We wanted to interview her none the less, but as we could not contact her… well, so went the interview offer out the window.

    Guy #2 was at a different government law job, applying for an attorney position. The job description mentioned that they would be handing religious discrimination cases along with other discrimination, worker’s comp, unemployment, and disciplinary matters for a large public employer. Resume lists most prominently not his JD… but his BA in Theology and his MDiv. We asked why he wanted this job, and he mentioned he recently proposed to his girlfriend, and looked to relocate to her hometown (which is a great reason for moving, tbh). My boss tried to gently steer the conversation towards religion, and how he would be able to function in a religion-sterilized office. (We were not allowed to call December 25 “Christmas,” in case it offends someone – and the same went for every other holiday that may be religiously interpreted: we called Thanksgiving “the federal Thanksgiving holiday”; absolutely no celebrations were allowed in case someone’s religion forbade celebrating things; and so on. Nutty place, glad I left.) The guy went pale as a sheet, and admitted to not even looking at the job description. He thought when we meant religious discrimination/First Amendment issues, we meant protecting Christians from harassment over their beliefs. And no, this was not in any of the “religious freedom act” states… this was Cali-friggin’-fornia.

    1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

      The story about the would-be prosecutor just confirms so many of my suspicions.

      -a slightly sarcastic and joking public defender

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Ouch…

      Admittedly, I’ve got a BA in religion and would have gone for the MDiv if I hadn’t crashed and burned in undergrad, but I’d be super passionate about religious freedom – it was a great opportunity to learn just how broad and diverse people’s beliefs can be! But most of my fellow students in the religion department weren’t of the same mindset. I’m imagining any of them in that position and… yep… I believe it.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah I majored in Comparative Religion because I find religion of all kinds fascinating. Possibly because I was raised in a completely non-religious home. I am also very interested in religious freedom!

      1. Megan Schafer*

        Crud. I googled “Snapewife” and now I’ve lost myself into one of the internet’s Black Holes.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      At the university where I work, if a transcript is open before being submitted, it is no longer “official” and cannot be accepted. Our wording calls for an “official, sealed transcript”, but I guess people’s curiosity gets the better of them?

      I recently had to send off for my ACT scores from almost thirty years ago*, and I ordered two sets: one for me to satisfy my curiosity, and one to be sent directly to the university.

      *I’m enrolling to finish the last year needed for my bachelor’s degree, and my original, private college accepted my English ACT score in lieu of a beginning comp class, but didn’t give official credit; they just let me skip. Now I need to show that I made at least a 30 on the English section, and my current, state university will consider whether that is good enough for a beginning comp credit. I got a 36 on that part, but maybe the thirty years ago part won’t be convincing; I don’t know.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I never knew a transcript had to be sealed. What’s the purpose? You’d already know everything on your own transcript, right?

        1. burningupasun*

          It’s to prevent students from manipulating the transcript. I work at a college and we won’t accept a transcript as official unless it comes sealed from the other school, because students will (and have) tried to scam before by editing their transcripts, making fake ones, etc.

        2. Q*

          To make sure you didn’t modify it in any way. It goes from the university directly to the employer.

        3. Amadeo*

          You’d think, but they do it in order to make absolutely certain that the document isn’t adulterated in any way. The doctoring powers of some folks are strong. My last job I left only a couple of months ago also involved grad school admissions into the Math department. I had so much trouble explaining this concept to international students sometimes, so I wonder if maybe it’s a US thing?

          “No, you can’t bring me your transcripts you have at home that aren’t in a sealed envelope. No, your parent cannot send them from your house in your home country. Yes, they really need to come directly from your university if you don’t already have a sealed, stamped envelope with them inside.”

          1. Liz*

            Many places won’t even accept as official a transcript in a sealed, stamped envelope if it comes via the student. I know we don’t. It has to come straight from the other school to us to meet the official transcript requirements.

          2. sopo*

            It is an US thing. As someone with a BA from a country that does not do ‘transcripts’ and a school that was unable to help me actually fulfill the ‘sealed, sent by school transcript’ requirement (their best offer was a copy of my degree emailed to me for 40 euros) it’s a very frustrating request. I always have to try the ‘ I have a copy of my degree/grades that has been legalized by my countries Dept of Ed and the local Office of the County clerk and that’s the best I can do.’

        4. Mallory Janis Ian*

          A few years ago, my university also enacted a policy stating that ALL faculty, both new and current, had to submit official, sealed transcripts to their respective deans’ offices. This was an effort to ensure that we didn’t have any faculty with fraudulent degrees and to get rid of them if there were.

  38. Queen Anne of Cleves*

    Not much to add but one thing stands out. Apparently an interviewee was given the advice to sit on the same side of the table as the interviewer. Once I entered and sat down across from her she got up and moved to the chair right next to me. It felt so awkward and too close..not only that she could see my notes and files in front of me. I felt like I couldn’t take the notes I wanted because she was literally right at my elbow.

      1. Queen Anne of Cleves*

        I should have but I was so new at recruiting, interviewing and hiring at the time I just kind of froze and tried to work with it.

  39. Rincat*

    I had one candidate who mixed up the time zone for a video conference interview, and she tried to get into the conf room an hour late. We tried calling and emailing when the interview was supposed to start, and she never responded to us. Later in the day though, she sent us a scathing email about how unprofessional we were to keep her waiting (even though we tried contacting her), and she’d never been treated that way, and she’d never work for us in a million years. I remember she put something like “good luck with your job search” in quotes in the email, as if she was being sarcastic.

    I understand it’s frustrating to have a mix up like that when you’re taking the time to do an interview, but geez! No need to send a rant-filled email.

    1. Chinook*

      I was the candidate who got her time zones mixed up. I was in a different province for a two day group interview and, on the second day, they had scheduled individual interviews and mock teaching situations. For reasons I still don’t know, I got the time wrong AND I hadn’t reset my watch to the local time. I showed up for my interview 2 hours late.

      Luckily, the company realized they had put enough money in getting me out there that they let me do a mock classroom. Only, they set me up to fail (I later learned) by having their most experienced teacher play the most annoying and clueless student ever. I didn’t pick up on it but couldn’t understand why this person wasn’t understanding what I said, so I just repeatedly pivoted and tried different techniques. Turned out that, by the end, I had so impressed her with my flexibility that they gave me the job despite my ineptness at time management.

  40. New Girl*

    We had a guy call us 30 minutes AFTER this scheduled interview to say his cousin had just had her baby so he couldn’t come in for the interview and wanted to reschedule. My boss was reluctant, but decided to reschedule. Low and behold the guy no called, no showed.

    1. Artemesia*

      Every single time we bent over backward to accommodate someone who no showed for a ‘good reason’ they still proved to be flakey later or no showing later. It is one thing to have someone phone before missing something with an emergency — but when they no show, you know what you need to know 90 % of the time.

  41. Bree*

    A candidate was flying into an interview from two time zones over (CT to PT). He was a high-level exec candidate who would be required to do long-haul flights all over the world, usually to Asia and Australia, about 50% of the time. When we scheduled a dinner for 6:30pm, he started bombarding us with emails about how dinner MUST be at 5pm because his “bio-clock” would already be ready for food at that time and he also needed to be in bed at 8pm to ensure adequate rest for his “bio-clock”. He sent us several articles about the need for rest and how companies expect too much from their employees. Also, science articles about human biological clocks, with the specification that he wasn’t talking about procreation (thanks?)

    We canceled the interview because you can’t exactly fly into Beijing as a VP and tell everyone that you need to tend to your “bio-clock” so you’ll be skipping the morning briefing, but mostly because he was SUPER weird and demanding about the whole thing (Plus, this has always bothered me: 6:30pm is a perfectly normal dinnertime! Yes, you’re coming from a new time zone but, like, suck it up, dude.)

    1. Rincat*

      Not like the time I went to Europe (I live in Texas) and we were not offered dinner until 9pm the day we arrived. I was so hungry. :( Yes, 6:30pm is pretty reasonable!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Or that the London tube rolls up at 11:30 pm and if you miss the last train, you are subject to the dreaded night bus.

        This would be good info for interviewers to give someone traveling overseas for a job hunt, or even to another city. Let them know that during X hours in the afternoon, you won’t be able to go to a restaurant, so plan accordingly. Or if you’re flying in the night before, you’ll have to make travel arrangements because public transit isn’t available after X o’clock.

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          Night Tube services are starting next month on Fridays and Saturdays! I am looking forward to this as I mostly go to London for weekends, and it’ll be nice not to have to rely on the night buses.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Really!?! They worked out the details finally? I remember the negotiations broke down before. That’s great to hear.

            I did ride the night bus last visit, but it was in Kingston and super boring, LOL. No crazy stuff at all. And here I was hoping for an adventure! ;)

            1. Mander*

              Nothing interesting has ever happened to me on the night bus, and I used to take it through Brixton regularly. I’m so disappointed.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Even adjusted for the time zone: 8:30 is not that out there as a dinnertime. Sure, I’d make sure I had a snack in my bag for mid-afternoon in case I got hungry earlier, but that’s it.

    3. Qmatilda*

      When I hop time zones I am hungry all of the time. Apparently my stomach thinks both hunger and the local eating time are triggers.

      Long haul travel does the same thing.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Saaaaaaaaame. Although on long-hauls I have that weird combination of hungry and also mildly nauseous.

    4. Dan*

      I wouldn’t tell him to suck it up, but I would expect him to manage his own bio clock and snack appropriately. If you scheduled meetings nonstop such that he couldn’t get a light snack late afternoon if he needed it, that’s on you guys somewhat. If I’m tired and hungry, I’m not sucking it up. I might be physically present, but I’m not going to be productive.

      But as to what you’re hiring him for… yeah. I travel all around the world for leisure, and am gone a month at a time. I generally get first class or business class tickets. And you know what? Me and long flights don’t work too nice together. I can’t sleep on them. If you expected me to fly to Asia twice a month (or even once a month) for a week or less at each trip, it would be murder on my body and I would be barely functional while I’m gone. I really would have to self select out.

      1. Anne (with an "e")*

        That’s exactly what I was thinking. A granola bar, a pop tart, Nabisco crackers, dried fruit. These thing exist. Put them in in your brief case, problem solved.

  42. Mel*

    I phone interviewed someone once for a low level PR position who sounded as though he was in an echoey room when he answered (this was a scheduled phone interview). Initially I brushed it off as maybe a cell phone issue or that he was in a lobby somewhere or a cafeteria. Well after about 15 minutes I figured it out when I hear the loud woosh of a toilet as he’s explaining the outcome of a project he worked on. I interrupted him and said “excuse me, was that a toilet?” He claimed he was near a public restroom and apologized for the interruption, but I was skeptical. And then –another woosh, but this one was louder almost as if the phone was held near the toilet. Then a minute later as I’m fumbling trying to end the interview, and as if on cue, I hear water rushing from a faucet. Needless to say he didn’t make it to the in person interview.

          1. Hermione*

            The whole using your phone in the bathroom seems especially gross to me, given its necessary proximity to your face/mouth/eyes when in use. I suppose a lot of people do it now but it still makes me squirm.

            1. Megan Schafer*

              Ok, but think of all the other things that are in the bathroom at the same time. I don’t wash my face, for example, after I’ve been using the toilet, and it’s been exposed to the bathroom cooties just as surely as anything I’m carrying with me is. Heck, think that most people leave their toothbrushes open on the counter or their loofahs/sponges in the shower.

              1. Liz*

                That’s why I always put our toothbrushes away when we expect company. Despite the sign above the toilet (Lid down or cats drown) people here in the U.S. seem to leave the lid up more often than not. Always squicks me out.

                On the other hand, everyone in our house reads while using the bathroom. Can’t speak for the men, but I have a “reading hand” which never touches anything other than my book/Kindle. :)

    1. Mel*

      In one of my interviews as i was introducing myself and thanking the person for coming in to interview the first words out of her mouth were “you mean this isn’t the interview with [another company]?”

  43. Cube Ninja*

    I may have dropped this one a couple years ago, but via a former colleague:

    Interviewing for an entry level position at a company that did outsource work for mortgage companies, we had a reasonably relaxed business casual dress code (cargo khakis were acceptable, for example) and not much concern about tattoos or piercings, as long as they were offensive or excessive. For the record, I have inner conch piercings and 00ga in my lobes.

    Candidate arrives, begins interview, at some point asks about policy on piercings, is told they’re not a big deal. He then proceeds to rummage in his pocket and re-insert all of his piercings *while in the interview*.

    He was not hired.

    1. KimmieSue*

      Years ago I was recruiting for clean room technicians. Absolutely NO jewelry. When discussing this requirement and the reasons behind it, I had an interviewee ask me “does that include tongue piercings?” Followed immediately with her opening her big wide mouth, extending her tongue to show me the piercing.

      She was less than two feet from my face. It felt like two inches.

      Not hired.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah I don’t care about piercings but watching someone fiddle with them squicks me the heck out. If it’s just sitting in your eyebrow or your lip, fine. If you’re twisting it or wiggling it or popping it in or out … noooopeee.

        1. Sophia in the DMV*

          I don’t do this in interviews but I am absolutely guilty of taking out and putting in my nose ring absentmindedly! I’m horrified if people think I’m picking my nose but I can’t stop myself – at a stop light, at my computer/while thinking etc

  44. Anonymouse*

    In a less uriney one, because I used to get about 500-600 applicants every time a file clerk was posted, I started putting one prescreening question.

    The question was “Rate your interest in the following job duties: Filing”. It was the only job duty listed, since it was the only duty of the job. The only options were “Interested” and “Not Interested”. I could usually weed out 2/3 of the applicants because they would put “Not Interested”.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I am stuttering with amazement and disbelief! I want to be a file clerk but I don’t want to file!
      But adding the question was brilliant beyond belief!

    2. Liane*

      Oh, gee. This reminds me of one of the stories my mother-in-law told me about her career in Housing and Urban Development. She was very high level and supervised a lot of people before she retired.
      MIL said that often when she had a slacker and was trying to get through the firing process, she would assign them to only filing–right across from her work area where she could keep an eye on them–for as long as it took for them to be shipped out. There were a few who shaped up.
      I have no doubt that MIL did this. She was a wonderful, sweet person–but you did not give her trouble, or you would regret it and not ever do it again.

  45. HumbleOnion*

    An applicant cursed in the cover letter & included fun facts about animal penises. That might be ok if this were a job for a veterinary urologist, but it wasn’t.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Did you know that a cat’s penis is sharply barbed along its shaft? I know for a fact the females were not consulted about that.”

      1. Amadeo*

        Oh, it’s true. Trust me. Signed, once pre-vet student with an animal reproduction class, and once certified vet tech, also certified to do A.I. on cows. Don’t ask me where my arm has been.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I recently wrote a cover letter that included a few lines about my dog’s exemplary office dog skills.

      It was for a job at a company offering pet services that is well-known for their dog-friendly office, though. Know your audience!

  46. evilintraining*

    Handed a guy a Word test with errors and asked him to fix them as he went. When he handed it back, he said, “I improved it.” He changed the wording in several places. Not egregious, but really? Arrogance doesn’t get you the job.

    Another showed up late to apply for a driving job, obviously hadn’t showered that morning, alluded to the fact that his drug screen and background checks might be problematic, then asked if I had a cigarette he could bum on his way out.

    1. K.*

      What was the Word guy in the running for? If the job involved editing in any capacity, I can see changing the wording.

      1. alice*

        I was going to ask this – I completed a test as part of an application for an editing position – I didn’t get the job, but I made to the final round (ultimately the other candidate had more experience). The interviewers told me they were impressed by my rewording of several passages, which is why they almost hired me.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I have resisted the urge to edit and not just proof, in the past – particularly if it’s not clear whether “fixing” is supposed to include things like split infinitives.

      But to hand it back with the comment “I improvedit”? Wow.

      1. Liane*

        I *always* clarify that before I start–is this fixing typos and spelling/grammatical errors only or do you want me to tighten up wording and so on as well?

          1. Isabel*

            I was hired for my very first freelance editing job by a well-known gallery owner who had written a book of personal essays and short stories. He planned to self-publish after my edit and to sell the book in his gallery. We talked at length about the book before I began. He mentioned his language limitation (English was his second language) and how he didn’t feel he had been able to convey some themes he wanted to get at.

            So I dove right in, earnestly massaging the text, sure that when I finished he would feel completely understood. I handed over the edited manuscript and waited by the phone for my praise and inevitable bonus. Well, he called me, devastated. He had expected me to be impressed by his masterpiece and only wanted “punctuation errors” corrected. In fact, he said, he had seen himself more as a writing mentor to me.

  47. pinyata*

    A candidate’s Linkedin page said their nickname was “The King,” location “In Bed.”

    1. Bowserkitty*

      Now I finally understand why people say to carefully monitor your social media presence…I don’t know ANYBODY who would even think about writing that (-_-)

  48. Pwyll*

    Strangest by far was the intern candidate who sent me a full sized color photo of himself with a sticky-note that said he was AIPAC-certified. He was African-American. His cover letter mentioned growing up “in the ghetto” but rising above it while caring for his elderly family and training with ROTC, but he turned down his “military service offer” to come work for us.

    It was as if someone told him that getting an internship is as easy as checking every minority box possible. We didn’t interview him, not least of all because when I contacted the school listed on his resume to confirm he was enrolled (we had a formal relationship with a specific school, and this resume was received outside of their usual process) we were informed he was not a student.

    1. writelhd*

      Fair enough about rejecting him because he claimed he was a student somewhere he wasn’t…that’s a pretty big deal, because it’s dishonest. But as to the rest, maybe I have to have read the cover letter to get what you mean, but I see a bit of an issue for rejection someone because of it….if that were the only reason. Who are you to say to say that someone like that doesn’t really exist and is only “checking minority boxes.” That attitude is part of what perpetuates the problems minorities face. Their experiences aren’t like “mainstream” experiences, they aren’t as relate-able to the people who do the hiring, so the don’t get hired. And then because the don’t get hired, they don’t get the work experience to put on their resumes that would be more relate-able…etc. I don’t know if it’s appropriate to talk about being raised in the ghetto and taking care of your elderly family and doing ROTC in your cover letter or not for all jobs, but…if that’s what you have that’s true about you to write about and you can relate it to your ability to to the job in a convincing way, then it’s what you have.

      1. Pwyll*

        I suppose I should have made it clear: everything was a lie. We googled him once we found out the school didn’t know who he was. There’s no such thing as being AIPAC certified (not in his context), the school he claimed to attend didn’t have any idea who he was and it doesn’t have an ROTC program. All of the jobs on his resume were college work-study jobs, which he couldn’t have done if he didn’t attend the school, and were ALL race related (think, Student Trainee, Affirmative Action Office).

        His cover letter had nothing of substance to it OTHER than mentioning minorities: it basically said “You should hire me because I’m African American, from a poor background, kinda a veteran, and Jewish.”

        I hear what you’re saying, that was poor wording on my part. We had a great track record of hiring minorities who demonstrated that they should be hired based on reasons that had nothing to do with their race or religion.

        1. Noah*

          I don’t know if this is still true, but AIPAC used to offer a certificate that entitled you to a special passport stamp going into and out of Israel indicating that you can be trusted not to take actions against Israel. It also has nothing to do with being Jewish and certainly nothing to do with being non-African American. It’s upsetting that you apparently find the candidates claim of such certification to be untrue (?), improper (?), something else bad (?) because he was African-American. Was international travel part of the job description? I still wouldn’t put AIPAC certification on my resume (unless the job clearly required travel to Israel), but it’s hardly unreasonable. Your response is unreasonable and seemingly offensive.

        2. Aleph Nulliparous*

          Pwyll,

          I am a minority, and immediately understood your posts. Please don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around this issue on my behalf. It’s kind of nuts that we can’t have a conversation about this, without seemingly offending the overreacters of the world (cough cough, Noah).

          Good for you for checking on your perfectly reasonable suspicions and not hiring the liar. I would have done the same.

  49. SJPufendork*

    I work in technology and often go by my initials as opposed to my first name (I am female, so I adopted this long long ago).

    My boss (Jim) and I were set to interview a senior lead. On the morning of the interview, I was at the front desk printing a shipping label when the candidate came in, looking a bit disheveled. He also had on dark sunglasses, which he didn’t remove. I said good morning and introduced myself without thinking by my first name, so it wasn’t clear I was one of his interviewers. I recall making some comment apologizing about the bright light in reception. To this, the candidate replied, “nah….I just don’t want them to know I had to Take something to get here today” (he then made a gesture that implied he was smoking pot).

    I Cancelled the interview in the spot. To my declaration that we really didn’t need to proceed, the candidate demanded to talk to his interviewers. When I said I was one, he accused me of tricking him.

  50. friendlyposter*

    A candidate wrote a 2-page thank you note after his interview, emphasizing that he was perfect for the job because he has a strong work ethic, as opposed to lazy public employees who don’t. He made at least 3-4 other indirect swipes at “lazy” and “incompetent” public employees too. Even if this approach could be forgiven in other contexts (which I doubt), the letter fell especially flat because the job was with the government…. meaning the interviewers were public employees. Seven years later, I still have that thank you note.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I love that you saved it! I used to work in college admissions, and when I was there, we definitely saved the wacky extra materials students (or family members) sent. My favorite was the mother who sent me a scrapbook of her daughter: prom photos, sports snaps, baby photos. Poor child.

  51. sockpuppet*

    1. Asked for a an example of how she resolved a professional conflict, candidate said, “I disagreed with my boss on policy x. I went to the CEO and kept going to the CEO until my boss was fired.”

    2. We’re in the south. Candidate from the north began mimicking a staff member’s southern accent during a group lunch and said, “Even when you say smart things, the accent makes it sound dumb, doesn’t it?”

    3. The candidate, presumably white, who said in his cover letter gave as evidence that he believed in diversity: his partner was African American and he “loved” their interracial children.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Asked for a an example of how she resolved a professional conflict, candidate said, “I disagreed with my boss on policy x. I went to the CEO and kept going to the CEO until my boss was fired.

      Wow…we had a candidate who was asked a similar question and she told a story about how she, the communications manager, and the marketing manager disagreed on how the project should go. When we asked how it was resolved, she said, “well I was the lead, so I ignored (marketing manager) and just did what I wanted.”

      1. Katie the Fed*

        We had a guy who answered several questions like this. “I went around my boss/did what I wanted, and was ultimately vindicated.” He used the word “vindicated” maybe 4-5 times. Nope!

        1. sockpuppet*

          I’m always torn between thinking, “Who SAYS this stuff” and “Thank you for saying it so we can dodge this bullet.””

            1. AnotherAlison*

              Honestly, I’m a quiet, introverted person, but I tend to be a little oversharing in situations where I’m uncomfortable. I clearly remember saying something awkward about the suit I was wearing at the end of my interview for my first position in my current company.

              I really enjoy reading these stories and seeing I’m not the biggest interview idiot ever.

            2. Snarkus Aurelius*

              You and I know this behavior is wrong, but they don’t. They’re sincerely not keeping it together because in their world they believe that’s acceptable behavior. What’s worse, they think people will agree!

              The upsides are a great story and a fantastic screening tool

        2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          VINDICATED!

          I’m going to see how many times I can work that into conversation today!

    2. Liane*

      “2. We’re in the south. Candidate from the north began mimicking a staff member’s southern accent during a group lunch and said, ‘Even when you say smart things, the accent makes it sound dumb, doesn’t it?'”

      “No, it doesn’t–but your spouting stupid, ignorant nonsense gave me my first clue that you are an ignorant jerk, which isn’t a skillset needed in this position, so we won’t be moving you forward. Bless your heart.”

  52. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve got to say I’ve been fairly lucky when involved in hiring. Some candidates have been less than ideal or awkward, but nothing really story-worthy.

    I did get a funny résumé once for a tech position, and the second page of the résumé was just a multi-columned list of random tech things (JavaScript, Excel, Notepad, etc.)… nothing about level of proficiency (and Notepad, really?) or what the candidate actually used these for in previous jobs. There were probably about 300 things in the list. I was just like, “What are we supposed to do with this list?”

    1. Liane*

      Maybe someone who read and misunderstood that crazy advice to hide keywords all over your resume so that computer resume scanner will pick them up?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Possibly, except it wasn’t hidden. It was a second page in full black font. I also wasn’t at a place using an applicant tracking system—it was a résumé directly emailed to the hiring manager.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      When I was a kid my dad brought a stack of resumes home and I was being nosy looking at them. I found one that had the person’s entire computer specs listed under ‘Skills’. Like, Windows 98, 500mb hard drive, 8mb RAM, Soundblaster Pro.

      Even middle schooler me was like, ‘so what I get from this is dude doesn’t know anything about computers.’

    3. BusSys*

      To be fair, Notepad is pretty awesome for anyone working with code.

      But Notepad++ is even better!

      1. Mander*

        I’m not even a coder but I’d be suspicious of anyone using plain old Notepad for any serious projects. Notepad++ is a bare minimum requirement!

        1. Anymouse*

          Okay. This made me laugh out loud and gave me a reason to make my first comment on this site. Congratulations.

  53. KE*

    I was recruiting for a midlevel position for a writer/editor for fundraising pieces for an university. A med school alumnus applied, writing that he’d recently retired and had always dreamed of being a writer. His writing sample was a research paper on chlamydia.

    1. Marillenbaum*

      I had a student once submit an essay about how her boyfriend gave her herpes. It was the Common App, so this essay went to every school she applied to. She was forever known in the office as Herpes Girl.

    2. Lulubell*

      This reminds me of the time that the sales guy from a medical journal tried to sell me advertising by showing some examples they did for a herpes medication. With photos and everything. I work in high end skin care, so while this might be a typical Tuesday for him, it was NOT for me!

  54. Joseph*

    So my last company ran candidates through a gauntlet of interviews – pretty much a full day. Many of our candidates were flown in from out of town and the office was a good distance from the airport, so we’d arrange a flight the afternoon before, car rental and then a hotel next door to the office.
    So morning of the interview, the guy walks into our office. While walking him to her office for the start of the formal interview process, the hiring manager did the usual small talk “how was the flight? how was the hotel?” and asks him what he did last night – expecting the usual response about a chain restaurant for dinner or watching TV or whatever.
    Interviewee’s exact verbatim response: So I went to a bar in [super-trendy area of town like 45 minutes from our office]. I was drinking and saw a girl who I thought was cute and started chatting her up. After we’d talked for a few minutes, she turned and said “You know I’m a hooker right?”
    The manager cut the conversation off at that point before he could give more details. We discussed it for weeks and never concluded why he thought that was an appropriate conversation to discuss with an interviewer.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Maybe your manager is someone people get very comfortable with very easily? I’m a bit like that – people just confess the weirdest things to me.

    2. LBK*

      Depending on how this was delivered I could actually see that being a pretty funny anecdote, but anything involving hookers is probably not appropriate for an interview.

  55. KimmieB*

    OH. I have never commented on here, but I have the best story. I used to be a store manager for a tool retailer, and I was interviewing candidates for an assistant manager position. A woman came in for her interview is a tight, see-thru skirt and giant high heels. When I closed the door to me office, she said, “Oh, you’re a woman,”, then kicked off her shoes with a groan and proceeded to give one of the worst interviews I’ve ever heard.
    I guess she didn’t feel I was worth her time or effort.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Wow. So many things wrong with that. So her plan was that you would be a heterosexual man who’d perv on her and thus give her the job?

  56. Meg!*

    During an interview, I asked the candidate a question similar to “Tell me about a time you had to overcome a difficult situation.” Her example was about the time she came home and caught her daughter in bed with her husband (her daughter’s stepfather). Awkward!

    1. Mel*

      Well….that could speak to how well she stays composed and how rationale her decisions are in stressful situations , couldn’t it?

      1. SarahBee*

        Sure. But it’s still entirely inappropriate for the context, and shows a decided lack of judgment and professionalism.

    2. AW*

      caught her daughter in bed with her husband

      Is that how she worded it? I’m more freaked out at the way it kinda sounds like she blames the daughter rather than the husband (shouldn’t be “caught her husband”).

  57. Lee*

    I was included in the hiring process for two new staff for the team I was leading. We interviewed a slew of candidates and the person I wanted to hire was someone with the academic background suited for the contract. The person the other supervisors had as their first choice completely turned me off during the interview. She asked *me* if I had children. I have no idea why she brought that up except maybe to curry favor with an employer who was a mother? Uh, no. Just no. Then, you could help but notice the top of her bra was showing out of her low cut top. I could not help but think, for the love of god, woman, cover yourself up! You’re supposed to be a professional! I guessed that she had hoped a man would be interviewing her at our office (I’m a woman).

    Unfortunately, I was overruled, and she was hired. She continued to dress like that and not being her direct supervisor, I couldn’t say anything. I had a bad feeling about her and wouldn’t you know, she expected others to do her work for her. She didn’t carry her weight in the team. I would go talk to her in person and point out we were a team and she was falling behind on her assignments and it was affecting the whole team. I gave her some suggestions on where she was having problems, but she wouldn’t listen. I don’t know if it was pride or simply b/c she realized someone else would cover for her if she continued to do shoddy work. One time she even came to my office and tried to physically intimidate me b/c I called out her incompetence to my boss.

    With no support from above, I left for a better job as soon as I could. A few months later, I heard she resigned. And didn’t bother giving 2 weeks’ notice. Interviewers, unless something in the resume or cover letter seems to contradict what you are seeing or feeling (in which case, do further research and ask questions), go with your gut.

    1. KRM*

      We had a contract worker (who I was not involved in hiring, alas) who dressed SUPER inappropriately. She always wore things a size too small for her, and her bra neither fit, nor concealed her nipples at all. She also insisted on wearing open-toed shoes into the lab ( a big no-no) and “forgetting” to put on lab shoes.
      She also spent a lot of time talking about how the way she dressed was “going to get her a man” and how her (teenaged) daughter was dating a “rich Jewish boy” so she should marry him.

      The kickers came when 1-our department VP had a meeting with all the research associates and she showed up 40′ late with Starbucks in her hand and 2-at the end of her contract position she claimed to first, not know she was on a contract and second, that she be hired as a scientist level (which are only PhDs at our company). She was informed that her shoddy work didn’t even merit a contract extension, and she was let go.

  58. grasshopper*

    Several stories:

    Guy who showed up in tshirt, cargo shorts and sneakers for an office job. When asked a question about his plans and goals for the future, he answered: “I want your job. Or to become a cop.”

    VP participated in the interviews and introduced herself to the candidate as “Jennifer”. The candidate repeatedly called her “Jenny” despite being told again that her name was “Jennifer”.

    Someone who hadn’t even applied for a job showed up and berated the receptionist, demanding that HR come and speak with him immediately because we should be grateful to have him working with us.

    Candidate who said “uuuuhhhmmm” so often in the beginning, middle and end of sentences that I started to keep a tally and realized that she said it over 100 times in 45 minutes.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      VP participated in the interviews and introduced herself to the candidate as “Jennifer”. The candidate repeatedly called her “Jenny” despite being told again that her name was “Jennifer”.

      Ugh…my first name is fairly common, but not the most common spelling…think Katie vs. Catie. It frustrates me to get thank you notes that say, “Dear Catie…” when the candidate has my email address, my email signature, and my business card that all clearly say, “Katie ___”

      1. Dan*

        I have a Swedish spelling of a common Norwegian last name. I get addressed with the wrong spelling so often, even by people who know me, that when I get something spelled correctly, I just assume it’s spam.

      2. Wendy Darling*

        My name (which is not actually Wendy!) has two spellings that are basically equally common, and one of my coworkers uses the wrong one every. Single. Time. she emails me even though the correct spelling is in my email address, my email headers, and my email signature.

        Her name is an unusual spelling of a fairly common name and I have to resist the urge to spell it the more common way out of spite.

      3. Fushi*

        I’ve always gone by “Kate,” and the amount of times people will just completely ignore the name I’ve said/written in front of them and call me “Katie” instead…UGH

    2. Jo Riley*

      Oof, we had someone do the name thing. She’d communicated over email with our director (let’s say her name is Katherine) and had done a first interview with her. Second interview was the one I was in on, and the entire time she referred to our director as Katrina. My coworker felt bad that no one corrected her, but I figure if you can’t even remember your potential boss’s name–which you’ve seen in writing–then I don’t want you handling our finances.

    3. Pineapple Incident*

      I would’ve done the same tally-ing thing with the ummmmm girl. That stuff bothers me so much- I’d rather someone just pause if they need a moment!

      1. motherofdragons*

        My former coworker is a serious “ummm”-er. Yet she kept getting tapped to do presentations at big, statewide conferences! Bugged me to no end.

    4. motherofdragons*

      Feeling for your VP! I also have a name that has common nicknames. It really bugs me when I introduce myself as, to use your example, Jennifer, and people immediately call me Jen or Jenny. I’ve gotten better about smiling and saying, “Actually, only my family calls me Jenny. At work, I prefer to go by Jennifer.”

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        I have the opposite issue! I introduce myself as “MJ” and a lot of people respond with “and what does that stand for?” After the first couple of times of telling people, and them proceeding to use my full first name, I’ve gotten pretty good at “MJ’s fine, thanks”.

        Just refer to people how they introduce themselves, it’s not that hard!?

      2. many bells down*

        I am actually a Jennifer, and I don’t mind Jenny if I’ve told the person they can call me that (I actually use Jenny at work most of the time), but it drives me NUTS if someone just assumes they can call me something different than what I’ve said. Jennifer is such a common name, and I spent years trying to get people to address me by my preferred version with no success, so I’m pretty sensitive about it. If I sign my email “Jennifer Bellsdown” I do not want a reply that says “Dear Jenn,”

        1. motherofdragons*

          Same! I’ve had people ask me, “What’s the big deal?” and I’m like, it’s my damn name!

      3. AliceBD*

        I switched from my full name to a nickname at age 9, but I’ve had to switch back to my full name at work because people keep calling me by a related name that is Not My Name. This isn’t really an issue in social situations, so at work I introduce myself by my full name and at church I use my nickname.

        For example, if my name was Virginia (not my actual name) and my nickname was Ginny, but then people at work call me Ginevra. I don’t respond to Ginevra and it is Not My Name. It’s a perfectly nice name and I have friends and coworkers called Ginevra, but it is Not Me. I don’t mind people using Ginny, but if using Ginny is going to make 50% or more of the people call me Ginevra, I’d rather go by Virginia because at least it is my real name.

  59. De Minimis*

    I’ve done one interview, nothing too interesting. One tip for candidates, though: When interviewers ask about getting feedback or dealing with supervisors, you probably shouldn’t talk about filing union grievances.

    1. Abby*

      I had someone in an interview ask me what the procedure was for filing grievances. She wasn’t already employed by the company. She did not get hired.

  60. Tammy*

    Years ago when I was a system/network administrator, the team I was on took turns interviewing job candidates, and one day it was my turn. The candidate was super proud of his certifications and had all the “right answers” to the expected questions memorized.

    Unfortunately for him, my style of technical interview wasn’t questions like “what’s the command to do X?” Rather, I’d throw out a scenario, and then let the candidate troubleshoot. I’d systematically eliminate options, watching for how the candidate thought through the information s/he was receiving and what s/he would do when s/he reached a wall and got stuck.

    Well, it quickly became obvious he had no clue what to do in a real world situation, and ultimately he told me “well, I’d do XYZ next.” I don’t remember what XYZ was, and it doesn’t matter at this stage, but the important thing was that XYZ wasn’t actually possible on a real computer. So I invited him to walk over to my desk and show me how to do XYZ, since “I’ve never seen that technique”.

    He started muttering to himself, under his breath but plenty loud enough that I could hear it. And what I heard was “mumble mumble mutter mutter F**KING B**CH mumble mutter!”

    Shocked and horrified doesn’t begin to cover how I felt. Today’s more mature and less petty me would have simply ended the interview there. Younger and pettier me, I hesitate to admit, didn’t do that. Instead, I spent another 90 minutes throwing him the toughest questions I could think of, just to watch him squirm. I escorted him back to our reception area, then walked into my boss’s office, threw the guy’s resume on my boss’s desk, and said “if you hire this guy, you’ll have my resignation five minutes later.” And then I told him why.

    Needless to say, we didn’t hire that guy, but I still wonder what was going through his head.

    That was the weirdest and worst behavior I’ve seen from a job seeker, but definitely not the weirdest and worst behavior I’ve seen in the workplace. As someone who’s been not just the only woman on all-male technical teams for most of her career, but a transgender woman (and hence treated as even farther down on the “geek power curve”), I’ve unfortunately seen a lot of fairly awful workplace behavior. (I can tell stories in the next open thread, if people are interested.) Fortunately, I’m in management now and work for a company that truly values what I bring to the table, so I haven’t had to deal with that sort of nonsense recently.

      1. Tammy*

        I actually did write a book, though it’s more a memoir of my life overall and doesn’t talk a great deal about workplace experiences specifically.

        Unfortunately, I don’t know a good way to provide information about it here without breaching the (admittedly slight) anonymity of my pseudonym and identifying my employer. :-( If anyone is interested, you are welcome to email me at “tammywrites [at] iclooud [dot] com” and I can provide a link off-blog.

    1. vpc*

      I would love to learn from your experiences! Glad you have ended up in a good place, even if the trajectory to get there was… sometimes less than ideal.

  61. designbot*

    One candidate’s resume claimed she had a “Bachelorette’s degree.” I actually googled this one because my reaction was, wait, is this a thing now? No, no it is not. At first I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and think, maybe this is some sort of feminist statement. But then I saw the butterfly illustration on her cover letter (I always review portfolio, then resume, then cover letter), and decided no, it’s just plain childish.
    Another sent no portfolio samples, which was listed as a requirement in the ad, and half her resume was taken up by a photo of her at the beach–it would have been a nice photo for an online dating profile, not for anything business related. Also she was from out of the country and would require a work visa, which if she had known anything about the company she would realize is highly unlikely to happen from a company that size. Not the worst, right, but not getting invited for an interview either. She proceeded to follow up three times, each time getting increasingly demanding to know why she hadn’t heard from us, she thought she was really good, etc. Everyone told me to ignore it but she just kept writing, so I finally wrote her back and said sorry, we’ve selected a stronger local candidate who followed the requirements laid out in the job description.

    1. afiendishthingy*

      Bachelorette’s degree????? Weird autocorrect? Did she genuinely think that’s what it was called?

      1. designbot*

        My guess is that she thought that the words “bachelor” and “bachelorette” were always swapped to indicate gender because someone had explained bachelorette parties to her, or thought it was a cute/inventive thing to do so. But that said, who knows what goes through people’s minds sometimes.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      I too always start with portfolios and I have been amazed at some of the ones I have seen.

      I received one that was all the cards you can do online at Walgreens/Shutterfly, where you use their templates and pop in photos.

      1. designbot*

        oh my god. The worst I’ve gotten has been all single-page or less stuff, like newspaper ads and band flyers. Never stock card “designs.”
        It really makes me long for some sort of certification in the graphic design field just as a way to draw a clear boundary for requirements.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

          I fought with HR to take the “or equivalent experience” off the B.A. in design requirement as a way to prevent some of these applications.

          I also received on that was full of iron-on t-shirt designs and vinyl stickers made with one of those Circut machines.

          1. T3k*

            And now I don’t feel so bad about my portfolio. I lean very heavily towards the opposite end of business/professional designs, but at least it’s my own graphics, not templates.

            1. designbot*

              I wouldn’t feel bad about that, just know your audience! There’s nothing wrong with t-shirts and band posters, but a consultancy with corporate clients could care less, and visa-versa. The people showing newspaper ads claimed they’d been graphic designers for 20 years, so there must be a job out there for those people somewhere, it just was not in a place that did heavy-duty information graphics.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            Hmm… I don’t have a B.A., my cert is “Associate of $ArtCollege” It was a 4-year programme, though. I have sometimes wondered if that would ever be problem if I wanted to apply for a full-time job. I guess it might.

    3. De Minimis*

      So if she’d gone to grad school would she say she had a “Mistress’s Degree?”

      1. Mander*

        I used to make that joke when I finished my MA. But, I meant it as a joke and never put it on a resume.

    4. Believe in the Bachelorette!*

      I want to believe that the Bachelorette candidate was actually just really good at marketing and branding and was going for a Legally Blonde vibe with the quirky branded phrasing and had made herself a personal logo with the butterfly.

    5. LawLady*

      Clearly the candidate wasn’t great, but if she was that egregious, why DID she have to call three times before getting shut down? Did you no let her know that she wouldn’t be getting an interview? If you’re not informing people that they’re out of the running after you’ve selected someone, you are being rude.

      1. designbot*

        We got several hundred applications for the position, and were not big enough to have any automated system set up–every single one went right into my own email account. It was barely possible to even glance at all of their materials, much less actually respond to each one.
        If she had been interviewed or followed up with in any way (i.e. anything that would indicate we were at all interested) I would absolutely have followed up to let her know.

      2. designbot*

        oh, and I should mention that we hadn’t actually selected someone yet. Saying that was the equivalent of saying “I have a boyfriend” to an obnoxious guy hitting on you at a bar–I just pulled out the only thing I knew could shut it down and keep her from emailing me every two days forever.

  62. Temperance*

    During and after college, I worked at a gas station for a period of time. It wasn’t a great job. I would occasionally work very early mornings – so early that some folks were out from the night before.

    One morning, around 6:30 a.m., a man came in, clearly on hard drugs and likely drunk, and asked for an application. I gave him one, and he then asked me whether we background check (!). I lied and said yes, and he cursed under his breath and mumbled something about disclosing his felony convictions.

    He had stolen a car at gunpoint while on PCP, and had been released the week prior. (He included the part about being on PCP, which led me to connect the dots.) He was clearly violating his parole by being on drugs and out all night. So, yeah, we declined to interview him.

  63. squids*

    One of the interview questions for a student position was “Tell me about one of your biggest accomplishments or successes, at work, school, or in your personal life.” Response: “Hole in one while golfing.” I prompted to expand on that, maybe this was the result of lots of hard work and practice? Nope. Proudly explained that it was during only the third or fourth time playing, and had never happened since.
    That was one time I really wanted to give constructive interview skills feedback.

    1. Joseph*

      I actually feel like if you explained it right, “hole in one while golfing” could be an incredible answer.

      You set a goal that you wanted to achieve, took dedicated hard work, had many near-misses that taught you that sometimes things outside your control cause unexpected setbacks, how you zeroed in on driver accuracy as the main thing holding you back. And then the hole in one happened and you realized that it wasn’t really the end goal, you had to keep pushing to improve.

    2. Mel*

      You’ve got to admit though you can’t blame him for saying it. What if he said he overcame a big illness or won the lottery or is proud of being a good dad. Those are all irrelevant to work but if you ask about personal you have to expect personal

      1. SarahBee*

        The question is about accomplishments or successes. It doesn’t have to be work-related, but it does have to be relevant. It needs to demonstrate skills, attributes or abilities that ARE work-related, because this is a job interview.

  64. Megan*

    I work for the feds (science organization) and hire a lot so I’ve had some interesting ones. There was a guy who tried to circumvent the hiring process by calling me repeatedly and trying to get me to interview him on the spot.

    My favorite though was with a candidate who looked great on paper. When I called him for a pre-interview, nobody picked up so I left a brief message saying who I was, the position I was referring to, the pay grade, and asking if he’d like to hear more about it and potentially schedule an interview. About an hour later he calls back. First he asks what position this is, and the next question is how much it pays (when I had already told him in both the job announcement and in the message I left him!). I repeated the pay grade “This is for a GS-X position which is $xx,xxx/year. He then asked if that was negotiable because that’s too low for him (on a pre-interview! The second question he asks! Before he knows anything about the position!) And when I said no, he proceeded to whine to me about his student loans for a bit and then grudgingly asks, “well what would I be doing?”

    He did not get the job.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Wow. Did he have to apply through USAJobs? Because that’s a *process* and there’s no missing the pay grade info.

  65. Catabodua*

    My “worst” story person never actually got interviewed.

    I work in a large, under-served urban city which has a high crime rate. However, it’s typical of most large cities that it really depends on where you are located as to it’s relative safety.

    We had an opening for a data entry position and had a scheduled interview. The candidate never showed up.

    HR called them to make sure that the time/date hadn’t been mistaken and the candidate said “I didn’t get out of my car – I was too afraid of all the black people hanging around the steps of the building.” HR person and I were flabbergasted.

    It was also clear the person never came near our building. Our building is in a very low crime area, and actually low population area as well. Lots of businesses in a commercial district on a very, very busy road – it’s not the kind of place where people are walking around. On top of that, our building happens to have a very high chain link fence with a security gate/guard at the entrance to the parking lot. No one is ever “hanging” around our building.

    We assumed someone in her personal life must have convinced her not to show because of how dangerous the city is perceived. But to throw in the idea that “lots of black people” were a problem was the icing on the cake for us.

    1. TeaCozy*

      If you’re on the west coast, I think I know which city you’re talking about. I lived there for a few years and whenever I told people not from the area where I lived, their eyes would get kind of big and they’d say “…oh.”

      Never mind that I love that city and made many friends there and spent more than one night out after dark alone without incident…

      1. Catabodua*

        Actually, no Bridgeport Connecticut. I should clarify that it’s the largest city in our state. People in “real” large cities might disagree that it’s large. :)

        1. BusSys*

          I live near Bridgeport, originally from out of state, and when people call Bridgeport rough, I seriously can’t help but laugh. Granted all places be they cities or the smallest of small towns have good and bad people… but Bridgeport is nowhere near as bad as its local rep would suggest.

  66. Katie the Fed*

    I was the sole female member of an interview panel and we brought in a guy who seemed to…not respect that. He interrupted me aggressively mid-sentence every time it was my turn to ask a question. One of the times he interrupted me to ask when he was going to get a chance to ask us questions (which we tell them at the beginning will be at the end). He also only looked at/spoke to the men in the room. Unfortunately for him, I was the senior panel member (wouldn’t have made a difference anyway because he was so obnoxious nobody wanted to hire him).

    1. Temperance*

      This actually happened with one of the summer interns who interviewed at my office in June. One of my superiors is male, and he was conducting a panel interview with three female attorneys. The (male) candidate would look at my superior when answering a question asked by one of the women, and would give better answers to my superior’s questions.

      My boss apparently told him that this is a *collaborative* worksplace, and we respect all people here … so he wasn’t getting the job.

      1. Trig*

        We had a summer intern who definitely addressed all of his answers to the (only) male interviewer, no matter who asked the question, and despite the fact that our (female) manager was clearly identified as the main interviewer/manager.

        He was otherwise a good candidate, and pickings were slim, so we hired him. Of course he spent the summer going to the same male team member with questions and issues and concerns that were much better suited to our manager. Including looking for career guidance and ways to transition to a marketing position/management/CEO-track (at 23, with four months of experience).

        It was frustrating, because it was never anything blatant, but he clearly thought less of women and clearly only saw our occupation as a bridge to a shinier, fancier career.

    2. rPM*

      Gah, this has happened to me too. Every time I asked the candidate a question, he turned away from me and directed his answer to my male interview partner. Completely inappropriate regardless of our roles, but especially since we’d already clarified at the beginning of the interview that I was the hiring manager and the other interviewer was one of my direct reports.

      1. Artemesia*

        A bit of a tangent. But I had a job in Kuwait after the Gulf War and I took a male grad student who was about 35 with me as my assistant and thought this might make things a little easier in a culture with such strong traditions of male dominance. I worked with a large group of their employees for three weeks and never once did anyone defer to him over me. They clearly knew who the boss was, who the higher status person was and in spite of the fact that that person was female, they always deferred to me, directed questions to me and followed my direction. Hierarchy outweighed gender.

    3. CMT*

      I interned on a team in college that was all women. They were interviewing for the next year’s interns and told me that one young man kept talking about how he would handle various work situations by using male pronouns to refer to the boss. As he was being interviewed by the 3 women he would be reporting to in this position. I don’t know if they hired him.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        When I was hiring for an entry-level position (and therefore getting TONS of resumes) I auto-tossed anyone who began their letter with “Dear Sir”. The management chain was female all the way up in a relatively female-heavy industry, so addressing a cover letter to “Sir” is fairly out of touch.

    4. Just Another Techie*

      I was the sole female member of an interview panel

      I haaaaate that. I had one candidate who jabbed his finger in my face during a technical interview and told me to “Stop and listen. I’m trying this and it’s going to work.” (It wasn’t going to work. He was doing the equivalent of trying to prove -1 == +1.)